49ers free agency: D.J. Reed is a perfect replacement for K’Waun Williams

D.J. Reed #29 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
D.J. Reed #29 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The 49ers may need to look beyond nickel corner K’Waun Williams in NFL free agency this offseason, and there’s a perfect replacement in the folds.

The San Francisco 49ers’ defensive backfield is likely going to look a bit different in 2022 than it did last season, as a number of the team’s high-profile starters are poised to hit NFL free agency this offseason.

A good number of those pending free agents are getting up there in age, too, namely veterans like Josh Norman, Jaquiski Tartt and K’Waun Williams, all having joined the Niners on cheap one-year deals a year ago.

San Francisco can hope younger defensive backs step into the fray, including cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley, Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir. But the team might be primed to explore the free-agent market this offseason, too, especially if there are cheaper options to have as opposed to some of the high-profile corners potentially available.

One name to watch as a possible replacement for Williams is Seattle Seahawks nickel cornerback D.J. Reed.

Why 49ers may move on from K’Waun Williams in 2022

Williams has unquestionably made the 49ers defense better since joining as a free agent back in 2017. Some may argue he suffered a slight dip in production last season, as he saw his allowed passer rating jump nearly 10 points from 81.9 in 2020 to 91.7 in 2021, yet there’s little questioning just how important he has been.

That said, considering Williams will turn 31 years old this offseason and will likely be seeking what could be his final significant payout as he hits the latter stages of his NFL career, it doesn’t seem likely the Niners want to get into a bidding war to re-sign him.

Over the Cap valued Williams’ 2021 play at $6.579 million, which is still fairly cheap for a cornerback but getting up there in expense if there are younger options available.

And as our friends over at Niners Nation pointed out, sometimes it’s best to “turn the page:”

"Prioritizing “old faces” is a debate that I’ve seen some 49ers fans bring up, and it’s fair. At some point, you have to turn the page from oft-injured players in the secondary that aren’t bringing enough to the table."

Williams dealt with some injuries last season, missing three regular-season games, but he also missed half the 2020 campaign, too.

Perhaps that weighs into the equation.

Why D.J. Reed would be a great fit for 49ers

Fans should be familiar with Reed. He was drafted by San Francisco in Round 5 of the 2018 NFL Draft, after all, and he also spent two seasons as a rotational piece in the defensive backfield before being waived with an injury designation in 2020.

Seattle subsequently claimed him off waivers, and he since put together two quality back-to-back seasons.

Over 10 games played in 2020, Reed managed two interceptions with seven passes defended, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, subsequently answering that campaign with two more picks in 2021 and 10 passes broken up. His passer rating allowed last year was a very-nice 67.8, too, and one has to figure he’d welcome a chance to revert back to the team that drafted him.

Read More: 5 under-the-radar free agents 49ers must target in 2022

Additionally, the Seahawks are expected to go with a new defensive makeover in the wake of former defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.’s firing, and it’s safe to argue the 49ers are in a position to compete for a Super Bowl now.

Not necessarily Seattle.

OTC valued Reed’s 2021 production at $15.22 million, which is significantly more expensive than Williams. But those figures aren’t hard lines, and the Niners should instead consider the max of what they’d spend on re-signing Williams and look to commit that (perhaps slightly more) to the younger 25-year-old Reed instead.

Even if bidding farewell to Williams hurts a bit, Reed could easily be classified as a younger upgrade.

49ers' 15 best free-agent acquisitions of all time. dark. Next