49ers free agency: Too-early look at 5 targets to go after in 2022

Cornerback Kyle Fuller #23 of the Denver Broncos (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Cornerback Kyle Fuller #23 of the Denver Broncos (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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Austin Corbett, Los Angeles Rams
Austin Corbett #63 of the Los Angeles Rams, a 49ers free-agent target (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The 49ers won’t have an abundance of roster needs in 2022, but NFL free agency has to provide some necessary upgrades anyway, and these targets can help.

The San Francisco 49ers shouldn’t be thinking too hard about which players they’re eyeing out there on the 2022 NFL free agency market. After all, at 8-7 and firmly seated in the NFC playoff picture in a Wild Card spot, there are bigger concerns with finishing the year strong and getting into the postseason.

Hopefully advancing far.

Yet the Niners’ recent surge and periodic setbacks have revealed some glaring weaknesses on the roster that need to be addressed. And not necessarily the obvious ones either.

Currently, according to Over the Cap, San Francisco is projected to have $12.78 million in cap space for 2022, although parting ways with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, as is expected to happen, will free up an additional $25.6 million, money desperately needed to extend high-profile players like EDGE Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

But it’ll also aid in luring in some productive free agents, too, and the 49ers would be wise to have eyes on these five pending free agents if they hit the market.

49ers NFL free agency target No. 5: Offensive Guard Austin Corbett

The Niners have to face a few big realities along their offensive line this offseason, mainly the fact left guard Laken Tomlinson is going to command a hefty new contract in 2022 somewhere, and it’s possible he’s already priced himself out of San Francisco’s comfort range.

Additionally, even if Tomlinson re-signs, the 49ers are also potentially going to have to admit their second-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, Aaron Banks, is a complete bust.

If that’s the case, the Niners surely wouldn’t mind plucking their NFC West rivals, the Los Angeles Rams, for a quality guard, Austin Corbett, whose familiarity in a similar zone-style offense would translate well over to what head coach Kyle Shanahan operates in San Francisco.

Corbett has been excellent in pass protection this season, and at 26 years old, he’s significantly younger than Tomlinson and might be worth going after anyway if the price tags are similar.

Either way, the 49ers can’t afford to neglect their O-line entering 2022.