NFL free agency: 49ers have external options to further bolster roster

Matt Maiocco
NBC Sports BayArea

The 49ers have been active during the NFL's open-negotiating window to retain many of their scheduled unrestricted free agents.

Although they parted ways with team MVP DeForest Buckner in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick, they managed to re-sign such defensive players as Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward and Ronald Blair.

On offense, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders remains available. But the 49ers restructured running back Jerick McKinnon's contract to keep him around for another season. The 49ers also re-signed backup offensive linemen Ben Garland and Shon Coleman.

It appears doubtful the 49ers will be active on the open market because of the priority they placed on keeping their roster largely intact. But if the 49ers were to look around the NFL for help, here are some players to keep in mind:

Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers

If the 49ers are unable to re-sign Sanders, they could look to the free-agent market. The club returns Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and Dante Pettis. The 49ers expect Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd to be healthy and contributing in 2020, too.

The 49ers got very little from their slot receiver last season. Allison is a four-year veteran who started six games last season with the Green Bay Packers and caught 34 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Allison could compete for playing time and provide competition for Taylor, if healthy, and James.

Chester Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts

In addition to being a slot receiver, Rogers also has skills as a punt returner and he should come at a reasonable price.

This might take a while, though. Rogers ended up on injured reserve last season with a fractured knee, and it will be a while before a team, such as the 49ers, could give him a full medical examination due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Rogers had a good season in 2018 with 53 catches for 485 yards and two touchdowns.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, Free Agent

It is attractive to the 49ers to sign a player who does not count against them in the compensatory formula. Gabriel was released this offseason, so the 49ers could wait a while and bring him in to reunite with coach Kyle Shanahan.

Gabriel would be expected to take Marquise Goodwin's role with the club. Goodwin is available for a trade, and he is not likely to return to San Francisco this season.

Delanie Walker, TE, Free Agent

The 49ers reportedly looked into signing Austin Hooper. And after losing Levine Toilolo to the New York Giants, they are certainly in the market for another tight end. The Tennessee Titans released Walker after a failed physical.

San Francisco would want to give him a physical to check out the condition of his bothersome ankle. That could be months down the road. If Walker continues his career, he likely would have to accept a part-time role. He could fit nicely with the 49ers playing behind or alongside George Kittle.

Michael Schofield, G, L.A. Chargers

The 49ers re-signed backup Ben Garland on Wednesday. They still might be looking for a starter, though. Right guard Mike Person missed time late in the season with a neck issue. Schofield is a good pass-protector and has the athleticism to get out in the team's zone-blocking scheme.

Brandon Mebane, NT, Free Agent

If the 49ers do not re-sign Sheldon Day, Mebane, 35 would be a great rotational option behind starter D.J. Jones due to his familiarity with the scheme.

Like Gabriel and Walker, Mebane would not count against the compensatory formula because the Los Angeles Chargers released him last week.

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Kevin Johnson, CB, Buffalo Bills

The 49ers do not need to go out and get a safety after re-signing Jimmie Ward. But they could still use another cornerback to come in and challenge Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon.

Johnson remained healthy last season while appearing in all 16 games in the regular season for the Buffalo Bills. He was in the starting lineup in the playoffs.

Johnson, 27, has additional value on special teams in case he does not win a starting job. Of course, with two first-round picks, the 49ers could also look to add a top cornerback in the draft.

NFL free agency: 49ers have external options to further bolster roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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