49ers’ 2024 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After Super Bowl Loss
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49ers general manager John LynchStacy Revere/Getty Images
The San Francisco 49ers had a terrific 2023 season by almost any definition. San Francisco controlled the NFC West, surged to take the No. 1 seed in the conference and seemingly solidified Brock Purdy as its quarterback of the future along the way.
Critics will continue to question Purdy because of his talented supporting cast. However, the fact remains that in two seasons, he’s helped San Francisco reach two straight NFC title games. He also helped lead two comeback victories in this year’s playoffs to push San Francisco into Super Bowl LVIII.
Now that the 49ers season has come to a close with a crushing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s time to get back to work and start focusing on 2024.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch shouldn’t have a ton of work ahead of them, as San Francisco’s foundation is very strong. However, they still have to address impending free agents, scour the free-agent and trade markets and evaluate a promising 2024 draft class.
Let’s take an early look at what’s ahead for the 49ers in the upcoming offseason.
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49ers edge Chase YoungCooper Neill/Getty Images
Unrestricted Free Agents
QB Brandon Allen
LB Oren Burks
QB Sam Darnold
TE Ross Dwelley
G Jon Feliciano
DE Clelin Ferrell
LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
DT Kevin Givens
S Tashaun Gipson
WR Jauan Jennings
DL Javon Kinlaw
WR Ray-Ray McCloud
CB Terrance Mitchell
OL Matt Pryor
TE Charlie Woerner
DE Chase Young
Restricted/Exclusive-Rights Free Agents
Here’s the good news when it comes to free agency. While initially projected to be over the 2024 salary cap, the 49ers were able to roll over a ton of unused 2023 cap dollars to put themselves in a more favorable position heading into the offseason.
The better news is that San Francisco doesn’t have a ton of high-priority free agents. Key players like Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams and Christian McCaffrey are under contract, while Purdy and wideout Brandon Aiyuk are on rookie deals—Aiyuk is set to play on the fifth-year option.
Lynch’s first task will likely be finding a way to lock up pass-rusher Chase Young. He traded a 2024 third-round pick to acquire Young from the Washington Commanders, and we can assume that the move wasn’t intended to be a short-term investment.
It will also be interesting to see what the 49ers do with 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw. San Francisco declined the fifth-year option on his contract, and the 26-year-old defensive lineman went on to have a career year with 3.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see San Francisco keep quarterback Sam Darnold or experienced offensive lineman Jon Feliciano for depth/familiarity purposes, but we could see several veterans depart in the offseason.
One of them might be starting safety Tashuan Gipson. He’s still a quality starter, but he’ll also turn 34 in August. Depending on how much they value Gipson’s leadership, the 49ers may look to pair another young safety with Ji’Ayir Brown and Talanoa Hufanga and allow the veteran to depart.
Potential Free-Agent/Trade Targets
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Panthers S Jeremy ChinnGrant Halverson/Getty Images
If the 49ers do move on from Gipson, they may target a younger safety like Geno Stone or the versatile Jeremy Chinn. San Francisco may also target a pass-rusher if they’re unable to keep Young around long-term.
Cornerback depth is also needed, and if the 49ers swing big in free agency, it could be for a top corner like Jaylon Johnson or L’Jarius Sneed.
Given San Francisco’s need for a top-tier rusher opposite Bosa, a high-profile target like Danielle Hunter or Za’Darius Smith could land in Lynch’s sights. This past offseason, the 49ers spent big to bring defensive tackle Javon Hargrave into the fold.
However, the 49ers’ biggest weakness is along the offensive line. Colton McKivitz has been a disappointment as Mike McGlinchey’s replacement at right tackle, while Spencer Burford has too often been a liability at right guard.
The front office doesn’t have a deep history of spending big on linemen, aside from the left tackle spot, so these may be areas San Francisco addresses in the draft instead. However, it would be wise to consider some veteran linemen as insurance policies.
Dalton Risner, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Graham Glasgow are among the names to watch at guard. Jermaine Eluemunor is an interesting name to watch at right tackle, as his play for the Las Vegas Raiders has been much more consistent than it has been in the past.
Jonah Williams made the switch from left to right tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals this season. While he’s only been marginally better on that side, the 49ers do have a track record of taking fliers on former first-round picks.
Given that track record, the 49ers might consider making a trade play for offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, who has largely disappointed with the New York Jets and is slated to be a 2025 free agent.
New Orleans Saints safeties Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu could also become trade targets, as both are scheduled to be 2025 free agents, while the Saints have the least projected cap space in the NFL.
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49ers head coach Kyle ShanahanMichael Hickey
As a team with few glaring needs, San Francisco’s draft strategy will likely hinge on what the team does earlier in the offseason.
Because of the ill-fated Trey Lance trade, the 49ers haven’t had a first-round selection since 2021. In their last five drafts with a first-round pick, though they’ve used three selections on defensive linemen.
A pass-rusher like Penn State’s Chop Robinson or Washington’s Bralen Trice could be on the table if San Francisco doesn’t retain Young. Realistically, though, the draft is where Lynch will start rebuilding his offensive line.
Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga could be the perfect target for San Francisco late in the first round.
“Fuaga has the size, power and run-blocking skills to earn a starting role in his first training camp at guard inside a run-first, play-action based system,” Brandon Thorn of the Bleacher Report Scouting Department wrote. “He also has enough quickness to play tackle in a pinch.”
Arizona interior lineman Jordan Morgan and BYU right tackle Kingsley Suamataia are other names to consider on Day 1. Oklahoma tackle Tyler Guyton and Kansas lineman Dominick Puni are among names to watch on Day 2.
Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter, Georgia safety Javon Bullard, Iowa corner T.J. Tampa, and Wisconsin corner Ricardo Hallman are other potential Day-2 targets for San Francisco if their top draft priority isn’t on the offensive line.
And given Aiyuk’s status as a 2025 free agent, Lynch might take a chance on another young receiver too. Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Texas’ Adonai Mitchell are among the receivers San Francisco might consider in Round 3.
The 49ers currently possess nine first-round picks, with two each in the fourth and seventh rounds.