The 49ers have some big-name players hitting NFL free agency this offseason, but retaining these five lesser-known players should still be a priority.
When one starts thinking of the San Francisco 49ers’ class of free agents poised to hit the open market later this spring, the first name that’ll probably come to mind is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Yes, Garoppolo is one of those who isn’t likely to return to the Niners in 2023, and he might be joined by some other notable players, too, such as safety Jimmie Ward and right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
However, San Francisco’s list of pending free agents is long, and not all the players are those who’d be considered household names.
In fact, general manager John Lynch would be more than wise keeping around some of those B- and C-list players who may not garner plenty of attention but nevertheless have contributed nicely for the 49ers (and could do so again if re-signed).
Here are five under-the-radar free agents the Niners should retain this year.
49ers free-agent No. 5: Offensive lineman Colton McKivitz
In the event McGlinchey walks, San Francisco can either choose to find his replacement in the 2023 NFL Draft, which won’t be easy considering it’s a weak class for linemen, or grab someone off the free-agent pile.
And that could get expensive.
However, one in-house option would be to promote reserve lineman Colton McKivitz from a backup role into a starting one.
Now, McKivitz is a restricted free agent, meaning the 49ers would have to start by offering him a qualifying offer on what’d likely be no higher than a second-round tender. And it’s not likely any other team in the league would be willing to part ways with a Round 2 draft pick to acquire McKivitz.
McKivitz, the Niners’ day-three pick from the 2020 draft, has five starts at the pro level already.
If San Francisco is indeed looking at him as a potential McGlinchey replacement, it’d be wise to ensure that RFA deal gets done at the soonest possible moment.