No. 3: Center Ben Garland
We’ll leave off the 49ers’ pending exclusive-rights and restricted free agents from this list, as there’s an extremely high probability they all return.
But as far as unrestricted free agents go, the Niners would be wise to immediately re-sign veteran center Ben Garland this offseason.
The chief reason is the injury concern with starting center Weston Richburg.
Richburg, who suffered a season-ending patellar tear in Week 14, is expected back for training camp. Yet the recovery process could ultimately mean San Francisco takes it slow with one of its high-profile players up front.
Garland filled in for Richburg after his injury and held the spot all the way through the Super Bowl. While the former wasn’t perfect and had snapping issues at times, looking at Garland’s 59.1 overall Pro Football Focus grade suggests he’s worthy of an immediate backup role.
And the 49ers seemed pretty high on him, too, giving Garland first-team reps last training camp when Richburg was still dealing with recovery from offseason surgery.
Considering Garland’s stock value on the open market, it’s likely the Niners can easily afford to retain one of their key unheralded depth pieces heading into 2020.