49ers free agency: 5 still-available players Niners can target

Chicago Bears wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bradley McDougald, New York Jets
Bradley McDougald #30 of the New York Jets (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The 49ers aren’t likely making many more splash moves in NFL free agency, but these remaining names could end up being targets.

The San Francisco 49ers re-signing cornerback Jason Verrett on a one-year deal worth just $5.3 million despite him having an excellent 2020 campaign last year reveals a pretty good truth about NFL free agency this offseason.

Many players are likely going to be willing to accept one-year deals, perhaps even on the cheap, with the understanding a diminished salary cap at $182.5 million is already creating ripple effects across the league.

But with the cap expected to bounce back nicely in 2022, players like Verrett are betting on themselves now to cash in on a lucrative contract a year from now.

With Verrett back for a year and the Niners having re-signed left tackle Trent Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and also having inked EDGE Samson Ebukam and center Alex Mack, general manager John Lynch’s big-name free-agent adds are likely over. According to Over the Cap, as of March 19, San Francisco has $10.6 million in cap space not including the adjusted contract for injured EDGE Dee Ford, which probably frees up something in the range of $6 million.

Even with an estimated $16 million left, the 49ers are probably only going to target some bargain-basement names willing to take cheaper deals in the range of one, maybe two years.

Here are five still-available free agents (as of March 19) the Niners may consider.

49ers Free-Agent Target No. 5: Safety Bradley McDougald

San Francisco seems to be bidding farewell to its former starting strong safety, Jaquiski Tartt, whose unfortunate injury history likely prevented any re-sign interest.

For now, one might assume the 49ers are giving backup safeties Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris the green light on competing for Tartt’s role in 2021, yet neither Moore nor Harris have shown the knack to be every-down contributors just yet.

That could change this year, but it’s still in play for the Niners to add a veteran defensive back at the position, and New York Jets strong safety Bradley McDougald could be in play here.

McDougald, 30 years old, had a forgettable 2020 campaign in New York after spending the previous three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks where he was much more effective in a Cover 3 zone-style system, not unlike the scheme San Francisco operates. The safety market has been notably dull in NFL free agency so far, meaning McDougald likely can be had on the cheap.

Even if a player like Moore or Harris winds up winning the starting job, getting an established veteran to at least round out the secondary’s depth chart wouldn’t be a bad move.