The 49ers have lost more players than they gained in NFL free agency, but even those moves can be graded when looking at John Lynch’s actions.
The first official week of NFL free agency is almost in the books, and the San Francisco 49ers have ended up losing more players than they gained.
It shouldn’t be too surprising, honestly. General manager John Lynch and Co. were roughly $9.5 million above the salary cap just before the league new year officially started on March 16, according to Over the Cap, and the Niners generally weren’t expected to be making too many big-splash deals at a time when lofty contracts are handed out left and right.
While there were some notable transactions, San Francisco instead had to absorb the reality of losing some key players who were poised to hit the open market.
Sure, retaining some or all of those names might have been nice, but Lynch should get credit, too, for passing on re-signing pending free agents who effectively priced themselves out of the 49ers’ comfort range.
With one week of NFL free agency all but completed, let’s grade the Niners’ deals (and non-deals) and break down what was both good and bad for each.
John Lynch, 49ers not re-signing Laken Tomlinson
Among the first of San Francisco’s pending free agents to be announced as leaving, Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson ended up signing a lucrative three-year deal with the New York Jets worth up to $40 million.
In an ideal world, the 49ers would have been able to retain Tomlinson, who enjoyed his best year as a pro in 2021 and has been a constant ever since being acquired at the start of the 2017, never having missed a start since.
Yet Lynch was wise to let Tomlinson command that kind of money elsewhere, as $27 million guaranteed over three years is a lot to pay for an interior lineman.
Negatively, though, Tomlinson’s departure puts the Niners in a tough spot, either having to scramble for contingency options or to look to their second-round NFL Draft pick from a year ago, Aaron Banks, as a replacement.
Considering Banks saw only five regular-season snaps his rookie year and was frequently a member of the weekly inactive list, the situation isn’t overly reassuring.