It’ll be difficult for the 49ers to re-sign all their top-priority pending free agents entering 2022, but that doesn’t mean the Niners can’t try.
Part of the challenge of being a playoff-contending team is having a roster full of good players, and good players typically want to be paid as good players.
If there was no such thing as a salary cap in the NFL (there wasn’t at one time), the San Francisco 49ers would have no issues retaining a sizable chunk, if not all of their pending class poised to hit NFL free agency when the league new year begins on March 16.
Yet there is a salary cap, $208.2 million to be precise, and the Niners will face plenty of challenges when it comes to keeping their best free agents.
Moving quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason frees up $25.5 million in additional cap room, which will translate over to approximately $20 million left for general manager John Lynch to spend in NFL free agency, either luring in other players or re-signing ones hitting the market.
It’s not a ton, and San Francisco could easily lose out on bidding wars for much-needed talent.
Still, the 49ers should make it a priority to try as hard as they can to re-sign these five free agents.
49ers free agent No. 5: Right guard Daniel Brunskill
The Niners have a bit of control here, as right guard Daniel Brunskill is only a restricted free agent, meaning if they place a tender on him, any team that signs Brunskill in NFL free agency would have to compensate San Francisco with an associated draft pick.
Those kinds of moves are rare, and it would seem like the 49ers would apply a second-round RFA tender on Brunskill, who started all 17 games last season and has the versatility to play anywhere along the offensive line.
That tender would cost the Niners an estimated $3.986 million, according to Over the Cap, which is still a tiny price for a starting-caliber lineman.
And even if San Francisco seeks out an upgrade over Brunskill this offseason, having him around as a primary backup would be smart money spent.