49ers wish they could afford these 4 big-name free agents in 2022

Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) against San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

In a dream world, the 49ers wouldn’t have to worry about the salary cap and could subsequently go after big-name players like these in NFL free agency.

The last time the San Francisco 49ers won a Super Bowl, the salary cap wasn’t exactly a thing, and the Niners aggressively stockpiled talent to ensure they could get beyond the Dallas Cowboys and into the Super Bowl.

It worked, as San Francisco pulled off its fifth Lombardi Trophy after a powerhouse 1994 squad engineered a 13-3 regular-season record and steamrolled its way through the playoffs.

The salary cap is a thing now, though, and the 49ers are going to face some constraints even though the cap is expected to jump up to over $208 million this offseason. Currently, according to Over the Cap, the Niners are anticipated to be $4.4 million over the $208.2 million threshold, meaning some roster jockeying will have to take place.

Parting ways with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going to clear over $25 million. But with an approximate $8 million reserved for San Francisco’s 2022 NFL Draft class, general manager John Lynch and Co. probably wind up with roughly $17 million to attack NFL free agency.

Meaning these four “we’d love to have ’em but can’t afford ’em” free agents are probably going to be out of the 49ers’ price range.

49ers ‘would love’ player No. 4: EDGE Chandler Jones, Cardinals

The Niners are desperately trying to find that complementary pass-rusher to pair with Nick Bosa, especially someone who can fill the void left by fellow EDGE Dee Ford, who’ll likely be off the roster this offseason after reaggravating the back injury that limited him to one game in 2020.

While re-signing depth edge rusher Arden Key (6.5 sacks in 2021) might be smart and of the low-cost variety, San Francisco would also love to purge a division rival, the Arizona Cardinals, of one of its top sack specialists, EDGE Chandler Jones, who got off to a rocketlike start in 2021 and finished with 10.5 sacks en route to his fourth Pro Bowl nod last season.

Jones’ 2021 campaign showed the soon-to-be 32 year old still has “it” and can play at a high level, even coming back from a serious bicep injury suffered the previous season.

But last year’s efforts could easily price him out of the 49ers’ comfort area, as OTC suggests Jones’ value from last season was worth $10.3 million.

At this stage of his career, that’d be a lot of money for purely a third-down pass-rushing specialist. And he’d likely be seeking even more than that.