5 free agents SF 49ers must avoid signing in 2021

Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images)
Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) /
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Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley (21) Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers have a high number of roster holes but limited salary cap space, and these five free agents should be avoided anyway.

The SF 49ers certainly seem further away from a Super Bowl than they did entering the 2020 season.

This, namely because general manager John Lynch and Co. are facing the reality roughly 40 players on the Niners roster are heading towards one form of NFL free agency or another. And while it would be prudent for San Francisco to make some considerable effort to re-sign as many key players as possible, the fact the team is projected to have approximately $9.54 million against a $176 million salary cap for 2021, according to Over the Cap, means it’ll be awfully difficult for Lynch to keep even a sizable bulk of his pending free-agent class.

Even with a possible higher salary cap and/or some serious roster jockeying, the SF 49ers still must be mindful about how they approach NFL free agency this offseason. There will be some key targets, yes. But there are also players who, while potentially tempting, should be avoided no matter what.

Here are five pending free agents the Niners should steer clear from this offseason.

SF 49ers Free Agent to Avoid No. 5: Running Back Todd Gurley

Last week, NBC Sports Bay Area touched on how Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley admired how San Francisco approached its run game, specifically on how head coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme opened things up for tailbacks:

"Kyle, he knows how to dial it up. He knows how to dial it up, for sure. Even dealing with all the injuries this year with the 49ers, he was still able to put points up with the backup quarterbacks and whoever was in there at receiver or running back. I’ve definitely thought about that (playing for the 49ers). Shanahan’s a great coach."

Indeed, Gurley’s best success came in a system not unlike that of Shanahan’s, the LA Rams’ head coach, Sean McVay, and his offense.

While Gurley is still comparatively young, 26 years old, his recent history of injuries dating back to the tail end of 2018 and the significant drop in production stretching through last year with the Atlanta Falcons is a massive cause for concern. Despite appearing in 15 games for Atlanta last season, Gurley managed only 678 rush yards with an average of only 3.5 yards per carry — the latter being the lowest since his 3.2 rush-yard average in 2016.

The SF 49ers have a history of preference for less-known tailbacks and already employ runners Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty on the roster. While one can’t rule out the Niners from potentially exploring a veteran option here, Gurley makes little sense for a team in need of help elsewhere.