Predicting which free agents 49ers re-sign, let walk in 2023

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (1) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (1) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 49ers face some tough decisions in NFL free agency in 2023, and Niner Noise predicts which players either return or sign elsewhere this offseason.

One of the challenges of being a good team is that it can get expensive.

Good teams are made up of good players, usually, and good players want to be rewarded accordingly. Since there’s this thing called the salary cap, it’s impossible for good teams to reward each of their good players the way they want to be rewarded.

Now that you understand the underlying theme of NFL free agency, it’ll be easier to understand why the San Francisco 49ers face some difficult choices heading into the 2023 league new year.

Currently, according to Over the Cap, the Niners have just $6.9 million available in cap space. With 20 rostered players set to become unrestricted free agents at the beginning of the NFL new year on March 15, it’ll be nearly impossible for general manager John Lynch and Co. to retain everyone they want to stick around.

No one can accurately say which pending free agents will be re-signed and which will walk.

However, let’s try our best to name off some of those who stick around in the Bay Area, and we’ll also figure out a few who’ll play elsewhere in 2023.

49ers NFL free agency prediction: Safety Jimmie Ward

Veteran safety Jimmie Ward was pushed into a nickel cornerback role last season, thanks to the shocking and pleasantly surprising play of fellow defensive back Tashaun Gipson.

Whether or not that frustrated the 31-year-old Ward is anyone’s guess, yet the longest-tenured San Francisco player could have priced himself out of the team’s price range anyway. Plus, at this stage of his career, Ward might be looking to capitalize on what could be his last big payout before retirement ultimately hits.

The 49ers have made Ward a priority before, and his versatility is always appreciated.

However, he might be looking to make well above $8 million per year, and that’s probably more than what the Niners would be comfortable paying him.

Prediction: Let walk