Sammy Watkins

Free agents that would have filled holes for 49ers to sign elsewhere


Free agents that would have filled holes for 49ers to sign elsewhere

Three of the top free agents at 49ers positions of need have reportedly decided on their new teams.

And the 49ers are not among them.

General manager John Lynch cautioned the 49ers’ fan base that the team would not spend lavishly on the open market. The 49ers, apparently, did not make aggressive plays for wide receivers Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins, or guard Andrew Norwell.

According to reports from multiple outlets, three of the most-notable free agents have already settled on new teams after just one day of the NFL early negotiating period. Contracts are not permitted to be finalized until Wednesday, 1 p.m.

Robinson, whose season with the Jacksonville Jaguars ended after one game due to a torn ACL, has agreed on a three-year deal for approximately $42 million with $25 million guaranteed, the NFL Network reported.

Watkins, who played last season with the Los Angeles Rams, will be joining the Kansas City Chiefs on a deal expected to pay him $48 million over three years with $30 million fully guaranteed, reports the NFL Network.

Norwell, a Pro Bowl guard formerly of the Carolina Panthers, agreed to a five-year, $66.5 million contract with $30 million fully guaranteed, according to ESPN.

The 49ers were not expected to extend too far for the services of any player this offseason after signing six players to contract extensions and adding former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on a three-year contract on Saturday.

Mailbag: Is WR still a top priority for 49ers?


Mailbag: Is WR still a top priority for 49ers?

The 49ers’ top offseason needs:

Offensive line
Wide receiver

OK, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the other questions submitted via Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag. . .

Do you think Jimmy's play and the ascension of Goodwin, Taylor, and Kittle would reduce the Niners’ aggressiveness for a top free agent WR? (Ronnie Dominguez)
Coach Kyle Shanahan was not altogether satisfied with the team’s wide receivers due to the high number of dropped passes and the inability to consistently beat man coverage.

But the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver, Pierre Garçon, will be back during the offseason program to join Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne.

Garçon’s ability to find ways to get open against zone and man should be a very good match for Jimmy Garoppolo’s anticipation and accuracy.

Among the top wide receivers scheduled to be unrestricted free agents are Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee.

Lee is good, but not necessarily a game-changer; Watkins was the third-leading wide receiver on the L.A. Rams; Landry is one of the better possession receivers; and Robinson is very good but missed the season with a torn ACL.

Any of those players would be a nice piece at the right price. My thought is the 49ers would be more inclined to find another player such as Goodwin – someone they believe has a lot more to show.

It would probably be wise to add a player like that while also keeping the door open to selecting a young talent on the second day of the draft.

What QB contract do you think the 49ers front office will use as their comparison for Jimmy G’s deal? Or is franchise tag on the table this year? (Shawn Green)
How the 49ers view Garoppolo’s contract is one thing. How Garoppolo and his agent, Don Yee, view it is just as important to working out a long-term extension.

Yee and Garoppolo rejected New England’s multi-year offer of $17 million to $18 million a year, according to Seth Wickersham's ESPN report. Garoppolo, it seems, has yearned for an opportunity to play. And that was not going to happen with the Patriots as long as Tom Brady was still breathing.

So, now, Garoppolo has his chance to play. It did not take long to establish himself as the central figure of the 49ers’ organization. Obviously, the floor for negotiations is the 2018 franchise tag for quarterbacks – projected as $23.5 million.

My guess is the Derek Carr contract will be used as a road map. (A little more or a little less.) They were in the same draft. They were second-round draft picks. And the Carr contract takes into account the cost of living in the Bay Area.

Where does Malcom Smith play? (Daniel Lucero)
The 49ers were devastated when Smith was lost for the season during training camp due to a torn pectoral. If Smith had remained healthy and playing well, the parting with NaVorro Bowman probably would have occurred much earlier. Smith is expected to start at weakside linebacker in 2018, with Reuben Foster moving to middle linebacker. The 49ers can be expected to re-sign Brock Coyle to serve as a special-teams ace and backup inside linebacker.

Is Joe Williams a potential explosive type back they’re looking for? (Brad Peltier)
Yes. The Joe Williams the 49ers coaches saw on film from his final season at Utah was exactly what the team wants from its featured halfback.

But Williams was tentative and did not show a whole lot in the offseason and training camp. The 49ers, in essence, gave Williams a redshirt year when he sustained a foot injury late in the exhibition season.

The 49ers like Williams’ approach to his rehab as he spent the season on injured reserve. The club hopes the light will go on and Williams can show in the NFL the same playmaking skills that attracted them to him in the first place.

The 49ers really like Carlos Hyde, but I don’t see them making an aggressive push to keep him from hitting the open market. That’s because Williams’ upside with his ability to make defenders miss greater and there are always a bunch of good running backs available after Day 1 of the draft.

49ers' division foe acquires big-play threat in trade with Buffalo


49ers' division foe acquires big-play threat in trade with Buffalo

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills shook up their roster with two separate blockbuster trades Friday, dealing starting receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and acquiring receiver Jordan Matthews from Philadelphia in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby.

The Bills acquired cornerback E.J. Gaines from the Rams.

Buffalo also continued stockpiling 2018 draft picks by getting a second-round selection from Los Angeles and a third-rounder from the Eagles. The Bills dealt a sixth-round pick to the Rams as part of the Watkins trade.

The moves were made day after Buffalo opened its preseason with a 17-10 loss to Minnesota. The shakeup continues an offseason overhaul under new coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane.

Gaines was valuable defensive back in the Rams' rotation. He won a starting job in 2015 but then got hurt before the season started. He became expendable after the Rams acquired Kayvon Webster this offseason, who is pegged to start opposite Trumaine Johnson.

The Rams need playmakers for an offense that finished last in the NFL over the past two seasons. Watkins can be that type of dynamic threat when healthy.

Watkins had been the Bills starter since Buffalo traded up five spots in the 2014 draft to select him with the No. 4 pick. He has 153 catches for 2,459 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons, but topped 1,000 yards just once, in 2015.

He's been hampered by an assortment of injuries and limited to playing just eight games last year after having surgery to repair a broken left foot. Watkins required a second operation in January after aggravating the injury last season.

In Los Angeles, Watkins is reunited with the Rams new coach Anthony Lynn, who spent the previous two seasons in Buffalo. Lynn started as the Bills receivers coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator last year and finished the season as the team's interim coach after Rex Ryan was fired a week before the final game.

Watkins is also reunited with former Bills starter Robert Woods, who signed with the Rams in free agency after four seasons in Buffalo.

The Bills continue revamping their receiver group, with Matthews' acquisition coming four days after Buffalo signed veteran free agent Anquan Boldin.

Matthews had been Philadelphia's most productive receiver, averaging 75 catches, 891 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his first three seasons. But the Eagles signed free-agent receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the offseason, drafted Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson and have been pleased with 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor's improvement.

Darby started 29 games in his first two seasons in Buffalo. He was a second-round pick (50th overall) in the 2015 draft.