C.J. Mosley

49ers' reported signing of Kwon Alexander more palatable upon review

49ers' reported signing of Kwon Alexander more palatable upon review

The 49ers were the first team to agree to terms with an inside linebacker during the early free agency negotiating period and it included a hefty price tag. Now that a few other agreements have followed, and details of the contract have emerged, it might not seem as outrageous as it once did. 

It’s similar to when you’re the first one to jump into the pool, and then everyone else follows. The water wasn’t really as cold as everyone originally thought. 

It might have seemed exorbitant for the 49ers to agree to pay former Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander $54 million over four years with $27 million guaranteed. The 49ers, however, have contract specialist Paraag Marathe working the numbers, and gave themselves plenty of room for an out, if necessary. 

Much of Alexander’s contract is incentive-based, with the only guaranteed money beyond 2019 being for injury, according to figures obtained by overthecap.com. There are also roster bonuses set into the contract to reduce cap hits if the team does decide to cut him. The contract includes $14.25 million in guaranteed money, an $8.5 million roster bonus and a base salary of $1.75 million for 2019. 

The reported terms for former Ravens' C.J. Mosley and former Eagles' Jordan Hicks, show that the overall agreement for Alexander is what the market would bear. 

Hicks reportedly agreed to $36 million over four years with $20 million guaranteed with the Cardinals. He played in 43 games over his four seasons with the Eagles, registering seven interceptions, one forced fumble and five sacks. He registered 254 total tackles, 180 of those were solo.

Mosley was projected as the top free agent inside linebacker of 2019. He agreed to a whopping $85 million over five years with $51 million guaranteed with the Jets. 

Mosley started in all 77 games he appeared in over his five-year stint with the Ravens. He recorded nine interceptions, six forced fumbles and eight and-a-half sacks. Of his 597 total tackles, 398 were solo. 

Alexander started in all 46 games he appeared in while he was a Buccaneer. He registered six interceptions, six forced fumbles and seven sacks during that time and 271 of his 380 tackles were solo. 

A player is, of course, more than the above listed stats, but they do offer a comparison. There is also the additional detail that Alexander is coming off of season-ending ACL surgery that was performed in late October. 

[RELATED: Breaking down 49ers' free-agent picture by position, need]

The 49ers have taken a risk in the agreement with Alexander, not knowing how he will perform returning from injury, but it is clearly not as extreme as originally thought. 

**It should be noted that reported guaranteed amounts released before the contracts are signed could be slightly inaccurate.

NFL free agency: 49ers looking for linebacker to complement Fred Warner

NFL free agency: 49ers looking for linebacker to complement Fred Warner

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday at 1 p.m. This is Part Two of a series that examines the 49ers’ biggest offseason needs and their options in free agency. Previously, we focused on wide receivers.

The 49ers answered one roster question on Friday when they restructured the contract of veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith to keep him on the roster.

But what does it really mean? Do the 49ers still need to add another player to line up alongside middle linebacker Fred Warner in the team’s defense? Is Smith considered a starter, as he was when the club signed him as a free agent in 2017? Or, at this point, is Smith a valuable depth piece due to his recent history of injuries?

The 49ers have one linebacker on their roster who is unequivocally a starter. Aside from Warner, the 49ers have questions to answer at the weak side and strong side positions.

Smith, Brock Coyle and Elijah Lee can play the weak side, as the 49ers' long-term plan blew up after Reuben Foster's string of off-field incidents led to the team's decison to release him. Smith and Mark Nzeocha saw action on the strong side last season.

On the roster

Fred Warner, Malcolm Smith, Dekoda Watson, Elijah Lee, Mark Nzeocha, Brock Coyle, Pita Taumoepenu, James Onwualu.

On the market

Three veterans who fit the 49ers’ scheme are C.J. Mosley (Baltimore Ravens), K.J. Wright (Seattle Seahawks) and Anthony Barr (Minnesota Vikings). Each will comes with a hefty price tag, for sure.

Mosley has been selected to four Pro Bowls in his five seasons, and likely will attract a lot of attention and a big contract. He is a middle linebacker, but that position and the weak side spot are interchangeable in the 49ers’ defense.

Wright, who turns 30 in July, plays the weak side position, and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has history with him from their time together in Seattle.

Barr is an accomplished strong side linebacker and considered an every-down player, but he has not proven to be a strong edge rusher on nickel downs. Barr has 13.5 sacks in his five NFL seasons.

The bottom end of the market for inside linebackers was set when the L.A. Chargers re-signed Denzel Perryman to a two-year contract reportedly worth $12 million to prevent him from reaching free agency. Perryman appeared in just 16 games the past two seasons due to ankle and knee injuries.

[RELATED: Breaking down 49ers' free agents, other roster decisions]

Offseason approach

The 49ers figure to get involved in free agency at the linebacker position. San Francisco should be able to sign a veteran to complement Warner.

Then, the 49ers can scratch that off their list of needs and not have to worry about spending one of their six draft picks to fill that role.

NFL rumors: How Trey Flowers, C.J. Mosley, Eric Weddle would fit 49ers

NFL rumors: How Trey Flowers, C.J. Mosley, Eric Weddle would fit 49ers

Landon Collins reportedly wasn't the only player to learn he'd become a free agent in the coming days. 

Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley and New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers did not receive a franchise tag from their respective teams, according to multiple reports. On Tuesday, the Ravens also reportedly cut safety Eric Weddle

All three play positions where the 49ers' needs are abundantly clear, but would any of them fit in San Francisco? 

Trey Flowers

Flowers should have a flowery outlook on free agency. Bad puns aside, he just might be the best player available on the open market. 

The 25-year-old is a versatile player, who Pro Football Focus graded out as a top-10 edge defender over the last three seasons with an overall grade of 88.7. The football analytics site rated Flowers as one of the best run defenders at his position, and an average-to-above-average pass rusher. He has also been durable, playing no fewer than 14 games in each of the last three seasons. 

The 49ers were decent defending the run last season, but could clearly use help rushing the passer. They likely are going to draft an edge-rusher at the top of the draft, but one player won't solve what ailed them. Flowers will be expensive, but the 49ers have the salary-cap space and the need to bring him into the fold. 

C.J. Mosley

Mosley has been a starter since the Ravens drafted him No. 17 overall out of Alabama in 2014. He has recorded at least 100 combined tackles in four of five NFL seasons, and manned the middle of one of the league's top defenses in 2018.

But Mosley's hype doesn't necessarily match his production. Pro Football Focus found that Mosley graded out as one of the best run defenders at his position, but he wasn't as strong defending the pass. 

Still, the 49ers' linebacking corps is likely due for an upgrade. The 49ers will have to make a decision on retaining Malcolm Smith soon, and could use help at the position whether or not Mosley is retained. 

[RELATED: Our latest mock draft after NFL Scouting Combine]

Eric Weddle

At 34 years old, Weddle is the oldest of the players mentioned here. He didn't record an interception for the second time in the last five years, and had a career-low three passes defended. 

Yet, Weddle still has something left in the tank. He was a pivotal part of a Ravens defense that allowed fewer yards than any other team last season, and made his sixth career Pro Bowl. 

The 49ers need help across the secondary, and a ball-hawk safety would go a long way towards improving their turnover numbers next season. If 2018 was not just a down year, Weddle might not be that at this stage of his career.