The 49ers mostly stuck to re-signing their own in NFL free agency, but let’s rank out these five new additions in terms of impact for 2021.
For the most part, the San Francisco 49ers weren’t overly focused on spending wildly on new players in NFL free agency, rather general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were mainly focused on “keeping the band together.”
Yes, the Niners spent a lot of money on returning players like left tackle Trent Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. But they also got bargain deals on other returnees like safety Jaquiski Tartt and cornerbacks Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams.
Some of the cheaper deals afforded Lynch and Co. to go outside their own internal market, working out deals with free-agent players who spent 2020 elsewhere.
A handful of those acquisitions were pretty splashy, while others may prove to be absolute steals in the not-so-distant future.
At any rate, sticking solely with players brought in via NFL free agency from outside the organization, previously, Niner Noise power ranks them out in terms of expected impact for the team this upcoming season.
No. 5: 49ers Safety Tavon Wilson
For much of his lengthy career with the Patriots, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts, veteran safety Tavon Wilson was primarily a special teams ace and reserve defensive back, starting for the bulk of his 2016 and 2019 teams.
It’s likely the 31-year-old Wilson winds up reverting to that role again in 2021, particularly in the wake of San Francisco re-signing Tartt to man the strong safety spot.
Yet Tartt, who missed 28 regular-season games over the last four years because of injuries, can’t necessarily be relied upon to appear for a full 16-game campaign. And the last two years have shown some questionable backup talent, namely with reserve defenders Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris struggling in pass coverage.
Wilson, while on the wrong side of 30 years old and not necessarily an elite defender, does have better marks in this category. On 150 coverage snaps in 2020, Pro Football Focus gave Wilson a respectable 64.2 pass-coverage grade — significantly higher than those grades from Moore and Harris.
The 49ers aren’t intending on Wilson being an every-down player, of course, thus pushing him to the bottom of this power ranking. But if Tartt suffers another injury in 2021, at least they can count upon Wilson to be a reliable coverage player within the secondary.