John Lynch

How Richard Sherman fits into 49ers' offseason plans

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AP

How Richard Sherman fits into 49ers' offseason plans

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan met newly available veteran cornerback Richard Sherman and his wife for dinner Friday night in Los Gatos.

“Just doing our due diligence,” Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Nothing to report, yet.”

Sherman, who is representing himself in talks with teams, can sign with any team at any time because the Seattle Seahawks released him on Friday. He is expected to undergo a physical on Saturday. Sherman sustained a season-ending right Achilles injury in November, and he recently had a "clean-up" procedure on his left Achilles.

Of course, the possibility of the 49ers adding Sherman to the mix before the start of free agency could impact the team’s strategy at its biggest position of need. The 49ers do not have a second starting cornerback. Sherman would fill that void.

Here are some pressing questions of 49ers fans (via Facebook) as the start of free agency nears:

If the 49ers sign Richard Sherman would they still be in play for Trumaine Johnson from the Rams?‬ (Jonathan Pitts‪)
I doubt the 49ers will be big players for Trumaine Johnson, regardless. It’s hard to believe that is a prudent move. The 49ers have made it clear they will target players who fit their model for sustained success. Johnson will command big money, and he has not been a take-half-the-field-away type of player that his price tag suggests he should be.

I would imagine signing Sherman would not preclude Lynch/Shanahan from signing another corner or two in free agency, right?‬ (‪Benson Collins)
The 49ers were extremely excited about the development of Ahkello Witherspoon as a rookie. But other than Witherspoon, the 49ers do not have a starter-caliber cornerback on their roster.

Two scheduled free agents who I believe are system fits – and, possibly salary fits – are Aaron Colvin (Jacksonville) and Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis). Regardless of what happens with Sherman, I expect the 49ers to at least investigate the possibility of getting a deal done with either of those two players.

Are we done filling in the WR position for 2018? (Max Moorman)
No, but I do not expect the 49ers to break the bank on a high-priced wide receiver, such as Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins. But we shall see.

The 49ers have reason to feel good about their top three: Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor in the slot.

Veteran Aldrick Robinson fits a role, and Kendrick Bourne has a chance to take a big step in his second season. Goodwin had his breakout season to earn a three-year contract extension through the 2021 season. I think the 49ers would like to work another receiver into the rotation so that Goodwin does not have to play as much as he did last season.

The 49ers’ best option might be to use a draft pick within the first three rounds on a player to develop – without the urgency to rush him into the action and become a major contributor as a rookie.

What about Alfred Morris, a cheap stopgap RB who knows Kyle's system and still draft a RB? Morris, Breida, Williams, rookie? (John Mayfield) 
The 49ers really appreciated Carlos Hyde’s approach last season. That said, I think they believe he is not the perfect fit for Shanahan’s scheme. Ideally, they would like a running back who can make more plays on his own.

Morris and Isaiah Crowell would both be very good options as free agents to pair with Matt Breida. It’s all about the cost, though. The door is open to re-sign Hyde. The markets of Hyde, Morris and Crowell will determine what happens in free agency.

The 49ers can be expected to sign a free agent. It could be a buyer’s market for veteran running backs because there are so many great options available in a very deep draft.

Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner fell in love with Joe Williams before last year’s draft. He has the skills the 49ers want from that position. However, Williams did not impress during the offseason program and training camp. He still has a chance, but now the onus is on him to prove himself or he will not make it to the regular-sesson roster.

Any news on Frank Gore's potential landing spots? (Isael Martin Ojeda Serrano)
I spoke at length with Frank Gore last weekend in Indianapolis. He wanted to talk a lot about the 49ers. You better believe he is watching what the 49ers are doing, and he definitely approves of the direction the team is heading under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

I got the sense that Gore felt he would end up with a team. He told me his is not going to sign with just any team for 2018. He does not want to "pad his stats." He wants to play somewhere that makes sense for both parties.

But I do not believe the 49ers will be that team. He is not a great fit for what Shanahan wants from his offense at this stage.

But when I brought up the subject of Gore returning to the 49ers on a ceremonial contract after he has played his final NFL game, Gore could not have been any more enthusiastic. That will almost certainly happen.

49ers take advantage of window that provides exclusive negotiating rights

49ers take advantage of window that provides exclusive negotiating rights

The 49ers are not expected to be nearly as active next week in free agency as a year ago when John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan pieced together a roster that was left in complete shambles.

But the 49ers have been far more active in the weeks leading up to the opening of the new league year.

The 49ers took advantage of the exclusive negotiating rights with their own scheduled free agents to reach contract extensions with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, center Daniel Kilgore, defensive end Cassius Marsh, offensive tackle Garry Gilliam and linebacker Mark Nzeocha.

On Thursday, the 49ers got a head start on next offseason with a three-year extension for wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was scheduled to enter the second season of the two-year contract he signed on the first day of 2017 free agency.

Since the end of last season, the 49ers have signed six of their own players to contract extensions. Only four other teams have retained multiple players on new deals: Washington (3), Carolina (2), New England (2) and Pittsburgh (2).

Lynch described the 49ers’ plan this offseason as “aggressively prudent.” At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, he spoke about identifying the right fits for the team in free agency -- finding players that fit the long-term plan in salary structure, scheme and character.

Goodwin is a perfect example of a player who came to the 49ers as a projection of what how he could fit into Shanahan’s offense, then proved himself on and off the field.

“From the minute Marquise joined our team, he has shown us everything we want to see in a 49er,” Lynch said in a statement to announce Goodwin’s new deal, which carries through the 2021 season.

“He leads by example with a tremendous work ethic, a trait that helped him expand his repertoire as a football player and post his most successful season as a pro last year. Marquise earned this extension by coming in every day focused on doing his job and, as a result, he made himself and his teammates better.”

49ERS SCHEDULED UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
RB Carlos Hyde
S Eric Reid
DL Tank Carradine
CB Dontae Johnson
G Brandon Fusco
LB Brock Coyle
DE Aaron Lynch
TE Logan Paulsen
DL Leger Douzable
CB Leon Hall
WR Louis Murphy
DL Chris Jones
CB Asa Jackson
C Tim Barnes
DB Antone Exum
RB Raheem Mostert (exclusive rights)

49ers are 'extremely well-equipped' to be active in free agency

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USATSI

49ers are 'extremely well-equipped' to be active in free agency

The 49ers rolled over $56 million in unused cap space from last season and will enter free agency next week with plenty of flexibility to get things done.

“We’re extremely well-equipped to do what we wish,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

The league-wide salary cap was set on Monday at $177.2 million per team. With the cap rollover from last season, the 49ers have a salary cap of $233,248,430 for the 2018 season, according to the NFL Players Association.

Lynch said the 49ers will have cap space in the mid-$50-million range when factoring in all upcoming expenditures, including players on injured reserve, the estimated rookie salary pool and the space required for the 10-player practice squad for the regular season.

Only the top-paid 51 players on the team count against the salary cap until teams cut down to their 53-player regular-season limit.

The 49ers announced the signings of seven unrestricted free agents last year on the first day of the new league year. Lynch said he does not expect as much action next Wednesday – the first day teams are allowed to sign free agents. Lynch has described the 49ers’ plan this offseason as “aggressively prudent.”

“I don’t think it will be that volume,” Lynch said. “That was thick and active and fun. I felt we improved out team greatly at spots we frankly needed. We’ll be a little more selective. That’s the aggressive. We won’t flinch if we think a guy has an opportunity to fit into that approach of sustained success that can help us do that.”