SF 49ers: Ranking top 5 re-sign priorities in 2021 NFL free agency

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kerry Hyder, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers have 40 players scheduled to hit NFL free agency this offseason, yet these five must be retained above the rest.

There’s more than enough work for SF 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch in the coming weeks and months following their team’s 6-10 finish to the 2020 season.

A slew of injuries last season and how to best go about preventing them in 2021 is one major challenge. Yet that element is just one small bit in the shadows of what could be a much larger issue: How do the Niners go about retaining the core of their still-talented roster while managing a massive array of pending free agents?

In total, San Francisco has 40 players scheduled to hit some sort of free agency this offseason. Restricted free agents and exclusive-rights free agents will be much easier to retain, of course.

But the remaining unrestricted free agents will be much more difficult to manage.

Especially with over $157 million committed to players already in 2021 and next year’s salary cap expected to drop as low as $176 million.

Prioritizing will be key for Lynch and Shanahan, and they’d be wise to place these five pending free agents atop their offseason re-sign list.

SF 49ers Re-Sign Priority No. 5: EDGE Kerry Hyder

The SF 49ers didn’t want to be in a position where a supplementary pass-rusher would be a top need, particularly with high-profile names like EDGEs Nick Bosa and Dee Ford on the roster into 2021 and beyond.

But with serious question marks about Ford’s health and availability for next season still out there, the need to retain defensive end Kerry Hyder, who led the Niners with a career-best 8.5 sacks this year, suddenly becomes a pressing need.

Hyder, who inked a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, far outplayed his contract value while upping his game in the wake of Bosa and Ford’s nearly year-long injuries. The former Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher had a 2020 valuation of more than $11 million and could ask for that in a would-be re-sign deal.

San Francisco could ask to drop the price, realizing Hyder’s success with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek could be difficult to replicate elsewhere.

But Hyder also knows the offseason market for pass-rushers, both in NFL free agency and in the draft, will be thin. And he understands Ford’s future is in doubt, too, putting him in a better position to command more from the SF 49ers.

And they’d be wise to try.