NFL free agency: The biggest swing 49ers could take at safety

The 49ers could look to veteran safety Eddie Jackson to reinforce their defense and extend their Super Bowl window.

Tennessee Titans v Chicago Bears
Tennessee Titans v Chicago Bears / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

With the 2024 free agency period looming, the San Francisco 49ers could and should look a little different on the defensive side of the ball.

Insert new defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen to begin the changes for the Niners.

After losing the Super Bowl in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco still looks primed to return to the big dance. The team has a few players in the secondary who are potentially leaving the squad, though.

The 49ers reached out to veteran safety Logan Ryan last season to help alleviate an ACL injury to Talanoa Hufanga, and with Ryan's previous postseason experience, leadership and athleticism, he served as a great addition down the stretch.

Hufanga's recovery is something to watch, but he's under contract in 2024. The only question is if he'll be fully recovered.

Meanwhile, along with Ryan, safety Tashaun Gipson joins the list of Niners looking for a new job in 2024, provided the aging veteran doesn't retire. Prior to his arrival in San Francisco in 2022, Gipson played two seasons for the Chicago Bears.

Acquiring a former teammate of his in the secondary could satisfy the needs of the team and the individual: Eddie Jackson. A one-year, prove-it deal on a team-friendly budget (laced with incentives) could be lucrative.

Why Eddie Jackson makes sense for 49ers in free agency

In the 100 games Jackson played for Chicago, he accumulated 459 total tackles and 15 career interceptions. Jackson had one pick and five pass deflections last year.

In 2022, he had four interceptions and a half dozen pass deflections. At 30 years of age, Jackson's veteran presence would supplement the loss of both Ryan and Gipson, should neither return. And it would guard against Hufanga's injury, too.

Going into the new season, NFL teams will have about $10.6 million extra to navigate as they assemble their rosters. This will allow the 49ers to be able to take on a player like Jackson, perhaps on a one-year, $1.5 million to $2.5-million contract.

If Jackson does not work out, San Francisco can let him walk after the following season. There will also be viable options in this year's draft, even in the later rounds, for a backup, too.

With head coach Kyle Shanahan bestowing the defensive play-calling responsibilities on Sorensen, adding Jackson can't hurt a team that's been atop the leaderboard in forced turnovers and turnover margin the past few seasons.

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