Predicting landing spots for SF 49ers top 5 free agents in 2021

Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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Richard Sherman, Derek Carr, SF 49ers, Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers have nearly 40 players poised to hit NFL free agency, yet some are more important than others. Where do they play in 2021?

While the bulk of the SF 49ers‘ offseason discussion has focused on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and who could potentially replace him, a pretty important aspect is the fact the Niners have nearly 40 pending free agents who are poised to hit the open market when the league’s new year kicks off this March.

Currently, according to Over the Cap, San Francisco has just $13.43 million in cap space. And while that’s not as bad as many other teams well over the predicted $180 million salary cap for 2021, the reality of the SF 49ers’ situation is many of those free agents are going to be suiting up elsewhere this upcoming season.

Including some of the Niners’ top names they’d otherwise rather not lose.

While money, rapport with coaching staffs and chances to win a Super Bowl will influence each free agent’s decision this offseason, there could be plenty of other factors.

Niner Noise takes a look at San Francisco’s top free agents and tries to predict where each one lands in 2021.

No. 5: Cornerback Richard Sherman

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman has already made it known he doesn’t plan on returning to the SF 49ers in 2021. While it doesn’t appear as if there’s any animosity there, the Niners would preferably like to get both younger and cheaper at cornerback despite potentially losing the bulk of their starting cast members there and primary backups.

Sherman will turn 33 years old this offseason. And after spending the bulk of 2020 on injured reserve, it’s likely we’re witnessing the twilight of his otherwise stellar career.

It would make sense for Sherman to follow his former defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, to the NY Jets to help with that team’s rebuild. And the Jets have more than enough cap space, nearly $68 million, to overpay on free agents this offseason.

But there’s a strong likelihood Sherman wants to remain on the West Coast. And there seems to be a link between the cornerback and Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, which could have been perceived as tampering since Sherman is still under contract with San Francisco.

Long-distance moves are never fun, and Las Vegas is a much easier switch for Sherman to make.

Prediction: Las Vegas Raiders