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San Francisco 49ers 2021 free-agency outlook

Injuries and other health concerns ravaged the 49ers in 2020, but they could bounce back next season with the right roster moves.

Miami Dolphins v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Injuries and other health issues plagued the San Francisco 49ers more than arguably any other team this season, resulting in the defending NFC champions missing the playoffs. While several of the players who missed significant time in 2020 will return healthy — namely defensive end Nick Bosa and tight end George Kittle — the team must also consider its future under center.

Jimmy Garoppolo has become a hot-button issue in San Francisco. While he made every start for the 49ers on their way to Super Bowl LIV, he missed 26 games over the past three seasons. Furthermore, his inconsistent play has dialed up the pressure on the organization to consider other options. Whether head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch pursue those alternatives will define their offseason.

Several veteran quarterbacks have either formally entered the trade market or have requested to do so. Matthew Stafford was available before the Detroit Lions got a deal done with the Los Angeles Rams. If the Houston Texans grant Deshaun Watson’s trade demand, he could set up the 49ers to dominate the NFC West for the foreseeable future.

Lost revenue due to COVID-19 will impact every team. However, with so many free agents, the league-wide drop in salary-cap space could make things difficult. The 2020 number came in around $198 million with the 2021 number potentially falling to $176 to $180 million, according to Over The Cap, but is subject to change.

Options for franchise/transition tags

The 49ers could lose two of their starting defensive backs this offseason, cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett. Sherman turns 33 in March and stated that he doesn’t believe the team will retain him, making him an unlikely tag candidate. However, Verrett’s combination of high-end play in 2020 and long history of injuries could compel the team to franchise him rather than negotiate a long-term deal. Doing so would compensate Verrett for a bounceback season while not committing the franchise to a player who poses significant health risks.

On the other side of the ball, the 49ers risk losing starting left tackle Trent Williams to free agency. The team traded a 2020 fifth-round selection along with a 2021 third-round pick in order to acquire Williams last offseason, a steep price for only one year of service. However, in the trade to acquire Williams, the 49ers agreed not to use their franchise tag on him.

Salary cap

Estimated 2021 cap space (Feb. 2): $9,540,669

2021 transactions

Free-agent signings


Free-agent departures




Notable unrestricted free agents

* Denotes Restricted Free Agent (RFA)

49ers 2021 Free Agents

Pos Player 2020 Team 2021 Team
Pos Player 2020 Team 2021 Team
QB Nick Mullens* 49ers
QB Josh Rosen* 49ers
QB C.J. Beathard 49ers
RB Jeff Wilson* 49ers
RB Tevin Coleman 49ers
FB Kyle Juszczyk 49ers
WR Kendrick Bourne 49ers
WR Trent Taylor 49ers
TE Ross Dwelley* 49ers
TE Jordan Reed 49ers
RG Tom Compton 49ers
LT Trent Williams 49ers
C Ben Garland 49ers
C Hroniss Grasu 49ers
C Tony Bergstrom 49ers
EDGE Kerry Hyder 49ers
EDGE Jordan Willis 49ers
EDGE Solomon Thomas 49ers
EDGE Ronald Blair 49ers
DE Dion Jordan 49ers
DE Ezekiel Ansah 49ers
IDL D.J. Jones 49ers
LB Joe Walker 49ers
CB Emmanuel Moseley* 49ers
CB Jason Verrett 49ers
CB Ahkello Witherspoon 49ers
CB Richard Sherman 49ers
CB K'Waun Williams 49ers
CB Dontae Johnson 49ers
CB Jamar Taylor 49ers
S Marcell Harris* 49ers
S Jaquiski Tartt 49ers
LS Taybor Pepper* 49ers