49ers free agency: 5 players Niners won’t bring back in 2022

Cornerback Jason Verrett #22 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Cornerback Jason Verrett #22 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Travis Benjamin, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Travis Benjamin (17) Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers face some tough challenges in NFL free agency this offseason, but it’s almost a guarantee they won’t retain these five players in 2022.

While nowhere near as extreme as the NFL free agency challenges the San Francisco 49ers faced entering the 2021 offseason, general manager John Lynch nevertheless has some tough choices to make with regards to players whose contracts are expiring when the league’s new year kicks off in March of 2022.

One could make the argument nose tackle D.J. Jones and left guard Laken Tomlinson are the top two priorities of the 34 pending free agents this offseason, and both of those players have proven to be vital to the Niners’ success over the last three years.

But, according to Over the Cap, San Francisco has just over $5 million in projected cap space for the year.

True, a substantial amount could be added if the team indeed parts ways with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, which is expected to happen and would free up more than $25 million in added space.

Nevertheless, part of managing that cap space would involve Lynch and Co. fully bidding farewell to these five free agents who won’t be back with the 49ers in 2022.

49ers free agent No. 5: Wide receiver Travis Benjamin

Head coach Kyle Shanahan has always put a priority on speedy players, and the thought in 2020 when the Niners added veteran wide receiver Travis Benjamin to the fray was he’d provide a deep-threat option who could stretch the field vertically.

Except Benjamin opted out of the pandemic-impacted 2020 season, then reverted to being almost an afterthought in 2021.

Sure, Benjamin saw some scant field time over the course of the season, playing in 10 games and providing some effort on special teams. Yet he caught none of his five targets, saw only 40 offensive snaps (less than four percent) and wasn’t much of an X-factor on special teams.

The emergence of wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk means San Francisco is set atop the depth chart, while two-year pro Jauan Jennings has all but solidified the No. 3 spot on the depth chart, pointing to the idea the 32-year-old Benjamin will be the lowest of low re-sign priorities the 49ers have this offseason.