5 pending free-agent 49ers who have earned new contracts for 2022

K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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D.J. Jones, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle D.J. Jones (93) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers face some tough decisions in NFL free agency once the 2022 new calendar turns, yet these five pending free agents deserve new deals.

Things may not be so challenging for the San Francisco 49ers in 2022 with regards to NFL free agency as they were earlier this year. After all, the 2022 salary cap is expected to increase from $182.5 million to $208.2 million, according to Over the Cap, and the Niners already have a projected $12.78 million in cap space.

On top of that, it’s highly expected San Francisco will move quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this upcoming offseason, too, which will open up $25.6 million more that general manager John Lynch can use to either onboard new talent or re-sign talent currently set to hit the open market at the start of the league’s new year this upcoming spring.

Currently, the 49ers have 35 pending free agents. Some, such as exclusive-rights free agents like defensive tackle Kevin Givens and wide receiver Jauan Jennings, are almost assuredly going to be back because they can’t negotiate with other teams.

But there are going to be tough challenges with both restricted and unrestricted free agents.

Here are five of those kinds of free agents who have earned new contracts with the Niners after their efforts this season.

No. 5: 49ers Nose Tackle D.J. Jones

It’s a good guess whether or not San Francisco will re-sign nose tackle D.J. Jones, particularly with the up-and-coming prowess of Givens on the roster. And signing nose tackles to lucrative deals typically isn’t a smart plan, financially, given it’s pretty easy to find good run-stopping 1-technique players in free agency on the cheap or via the NFL Draft.

An educated bet would suggest the 49ers pass on re-signing Jones, their sixth-round pick from the 2017 draft, simply because Givens is in the mix and likely the primary go-to option if Jones leaves in NFL free agency.

Still, that doesn’t mean Jones hasn’t earned a new deal.

Jones, whose 73.2 run-stopping Pro Football Focus grade is quality, is more than just a run-stuffer, though. While he’s only recorded one sack this season, he already has seven tackles for a loss and has appeared on 51.8 percent of defensive snaps, notable for a nose tackle who usually plays only on base downs, which has a league average of about 33 percent in today’s pass-happy NFL.

The Niners may still pass on Jones, but he’s certainly earned a new deal. If they can afford him, they shouldn’t hesitate.