49ers have busy opening day of free agency
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — A year after spending most of free agency on the sideline, the San Francisco 49ers had a busy start to the new league year as coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch begin a massive rebuilding process.
The 49ers announced they agreed to contracts with seven free agents on Thursday: quarterback Brian Hoyer (two years), receiver Pierre Garcon (five years), linebacker Malcolm Smith (five years), Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk (four years), kicker Robbie Gould (two years), receiver Marquise Goodwin (two years) and blocking tight end Logan Paulsen (one year).
San Francisco wasn’t done there. Later in the night, quarterback Matt Barkley tweeted that he also had reached a deal with San Francisco and a person familiar with the contract said receiver Aldrick Robinson also agreed to a two-year deal that could be worth up to $6 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been announced. The deal was first reported by NFL Media.
San Francisco is coming off a 2-14 season that matched the worst record in franchise history and cost coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke their jobs.
Despite a depleted roster last season, the Niners only signed guard Zane Beadles and backup quarterback Thad Lewis in free agency in Baalke’s final season running the team.
It has been a far different strategy so far this year as the 49ers have started filling the approximately $100 million in salary cap room, highlighted by a quarterback and receiver who both have experience playing with Shanahan.
Hoyer made 13 starts for Cleveland in 2014 when Shanahan was offensive coordinator. Hoyer won seven of those starts and threw for a career-high 3,326 yards that season. Hoyer will reportedly get $10 million guaranteed in the two-year deal.
The Niners are also adding another quarterback who played for the Bears last season. Barkley started six games for Chicago with his only win coming against San Francisco. He has a 63.7 passer rating in 11 games with Philadelphia and Chicago.
The 49ers now have two experienced quarterbacks on the roster after starting the league year with none. They also could add another in the draft.
One of the prime targets for whoever plays quarterback will be Garcon, who got a contract worth $47.5 million with $20 million guaranteed and $16 million paid in the first year. Garcon set career highs in 2013 in Washington when Shanahan was his offensive coordinator with 113 catches for 1,346 yards.
Garcon is coming off his second career 1,000-yard season, having caught 79 passes for 1,041 yards in Washington with three TDs.
Familiarity is a recurring theme with the signings with Paulsen and Robinson having played for Shanahan and Smith having spent three seasons in Seattle with new Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Smith got a deal worth $26.5 million with $13 million guaranteed to move from Oakland to San Francisco.
Smith memorably had the game-sealing interception in the 2013 NFC title game for the Seahawks against San Francisco. He went on to win the Super Bowl MVP that season, but struggled at times in his two seasons with the Raiders, especially in pass coverage.
Robinson played for Shanahan in Washington from 2011-13 and in Atlanta last season. He has 50 catches for 931 yards and seven touchdowns.
Goodwin, a 2012 Olympian in the long jump, had a career-high 29 catches for 431 yards and three touchdowns last season for the Bills. He has 49 catches for 780 yards and six scores in his career and would provide a deep threat to complement Garcon and leading returning receiver Jeremy Kerley, who had 64 catches last season operating mostly out of the slot.
Gould replaces free agent Phil Dawson. He spent his first 11 seasons with Chicago before playing last season for the New York Giants. He made all 10 field goal attempts in 2016 and 20 of 23 extra points.
For his career, Gould has made 85.9 percent of his field goals, including 23 of 31 from 50 yards or more.
Paulsen should also help the running game as a blocking tight end who complements receiving threat Vance McDonald. Paulsen has 82 catches in six seasons with Washington and Chicago, having played four years in Washington when Shanahan was offensive coordinator.
Juszczyk, who got a $21 million deal that is the highest for a fullback according to NFL Network, caught 37 passes for Baltimore last season and is a strong blocker.