4 upcoming free agents 49ers should re-sign at all costs

Laken Tomlinson #75 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Laken Tomlinson #75 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Azeez Al-Shaair, 49ers
Azeez Al-Shaair, San Francisco 49ers. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

With NFL free agency looming, the 49ers have to ensure these four pending free agents don’t slip away on the open market to other teams.

Currently, according to Over the Cap, the San Francisco 49ers have only a shade over $5 million in available cap space for 2022 despite the cap increasing significantly over its $182.5 million.

Of course, the Niners could create more than $25 million more in cap space if/when they move on from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, which will help the inevitable and sizable contract extensions needed for Pro Bowl players like wide receiver Deebo Samuel and EDGE Nick Bosa.

San Francisco doesn’t have a long list of pending free agents poised to hit the market. But there are nevertheless some pretty notable names out there, and a few of them should be considered as high priorities for general manager John Lynch to re-sign this offseason.

Particularly these four, who should be towards the top of that priority list.

49ers free-agent priority No. 4: Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair

For much of 2021, the 49ers saw what they had in former undrafted free-agent linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair because of the serious injury suffered by fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw, which held him out for all but three regular-season games.

In some cases, Al-Shaair vastly outperformed Greenlaw when the latter was at his best, eventually finishing second on the team in tackles (102) and third with nine tackles for a loss.

Greenlaw still has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but a recently established injury history suggests keeping Al-Shaair, a restricted free agent, around for another season would be a wise move.

A second-round RFA tender is estimated to cost the Niners $3.99 million, according to Over the Cap, which is still affordable for a starting-caliber player frequently performing backup and special teams duties.

In San Francisco’s case, and with few other roster options available, Al-Shaair staying put sure seems like a smart move.