Best remaining NFL free agents available right now heavy on defense
Eric Berry, Safety
Berry, 30, played just four regular-season and playoff games for the Kansas City Chiefs over the last two seasons. He ruptured his Achilles in 2017, and dealt with a heel injury in 2018.
But Berry's résumé otherwise includes three All-Pro selections and four Pro Bowls. As Jennifer Lee Chan noted earlier this week, Berry's experience would be valuable for a young 49ers secondary. Even with the age and injury concerns, the chance Berry could rediscover his elite form is worth a shot.
It's not like the 49ers are tepid about signing promising players with an injury history, anyway.
Justin Houston, OLB
Houston is another Chiefs castoff in his 30s, but that hasn't stopped Raiders coach Jon Gruden before. It didn't work out with Derrick Johnson, but it very well could with Houston.
The Raiders struggled defending the pass (NFL-low 13 sacks) and the run (2,249 rushing yards allowed, third-most) last season, and Houston could help the Silver and Black in both areas. Per Pro Football Focus, Houston had 408 total pressures and 285 run stops in his Chiefs career.
Gruden infamously was unwilling to pay an edge rusher in his prime last summer, and Houston's age coupled with the Raiders' draft haul could ensure Oakland looks elsewhere. Still, the Raiders changed course with Antonio Brown, and it could be worth it doing the same for Houston the longer he remains a free agent.
Ndamukong Suh, DT
Suh reportedly wants to stay on the West Coast, according to NFL Media's Ian Rappoport. He might no longer be the fearsome force he once was, but Suh still is an effective interior lineman.
He played 16 games for the eighth time in nine seasons, and was a pivotal piece in the Los Angeles Rams' playoff run. 2018 was his first season playing in a 3-4 base defense, and the 49ers and Raiders' defenses would represent familiar surroundings to some degree.
Of course, both teams are grooming young defensive tackles, and that has to be considered if either courts Suh. Yet, he remains a coveted player, and his reported west-coast interest could go a long way.
Ziggy Ansah, DE
Ansah has been up-and-down over the last four seasons, but his ceiling (14.5 sacks in 2015) will go a long way toward alleviating concerns about an injury-riddled 2018 season.
He played just seven games with the Detroit Lions last season but still posted four sacks. Ansah isn't one-dimensional, either, as Pro Football Focus gave him a run-defense grade of 69.0 or above in four of his last six seasons.
The 29-year-old has already met with the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, and does have ties to the 49ers coaching staff. But after San Francisco traded for Dee Ford, the Raiders would appear to have a bigger need.
Jared Cook, TE
Speaking of the Raiders' needs, will they really let their best offensive player from a year ago leave?
Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock both said they were open to bringing Cook back, but that was before the Antonio Brown deal. And even then, both seemed resigned to the fact there would be widespread interest in the talented tight end.
He reportedly lined up a visit with the Saints, and the New England Patriots reportedly could be interested depending upon Rob Gronkowski's future. It'll be hard for the Raiders to compete with two of the best offenses in football, but Cook's production last season makes him worth the pursuit nonetheless.
C.J. Anderson, RB
Anderson wasn't good enough for the Raiders last year, apparently. But he definitely was good enough for the reigning NFC champions.
The Vallejo native signed off the street with the Rams, and ran for 488 yards in five regular-season and playoff games with L.A. Despite that, the Cal product said earlier this week he still hasn't gotten any offers yet.
The 49ers figure to be set at running back, but Anderson has never been shy about sharing his Raider fandom. Perhaps that changed after he was released, although a Marshawn Lynch retirement would appear to leave a spot open in the backfield. With the Oakland Coliseum set for a football send-off in 2019, why not bring a native son (and playoff hero) back into the fold as depth?
Colin Kaepernick, QB
Yes, he hasn't played in two years. Yes, he already is in his 30s. And yes, his settlement with the NFL doesn't make a return any more likely.
With Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater off the market, Kaepernick is the best quarterback available among the dregs of an already-weak signal-caller class. It's still likely he'll remain jobless for a third consecutive season, but as long as worse signal-callers are attracting interest, he should be an option for QB-needy teams.