Only 2 49ers land in ESPN’s top 50 free agents of 2023
The 49ers have a handful of free agents they’ll likely aim to re-sign this offseason as they aim to fill out the margins of another Super Bowl-caliber roster, but their list of 21 unrestricted free agents doesn’t feature a ton of high-profile names. That could mean San Francisco has an easier time retaining some of their key players who are due to hit the market.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen published a list of the top 50 NFL free agents for this offseason, and only two 49ers landed on the list.
The name that shows up first is right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who landed at No. 6 on the list. He’s the second tackle behind Chiefs OT Orlando Brown.
McGlinchey often drew the ire of 49ers fans after some up-and-down play through the last couple of seasons while he dealt with injury. For Bowen, a handful of tough reps for McGlinchey in pass protection didn’t outweigh his mostly good overall play:
McGlinchey, a strong edge blocker who wins with angles and his ability to get off the ball, is the second offensive tackle in the top 10 here. The right tackle can handle power rushers, and he has the lower-body flexibility to match speed off the edge. McGlinchey’s pass block win rate this season (89.6%) ranked just 32nd among all tackles, but his run block win rate (81.2%) was fifth overall.
Given their lack of high-end draft capital, the 49ers should be in the mix to re-sign their former first-round pick. There’s a good chance he has a robust market though, putting him out of San Francisco’s pricee range.
The other 49er in the top 50 is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s ranked 24th overall, and fourth among quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson (No. 1), Geno Smith (No. 5) and Daniel Jones (No. 9). Garoppolo might’ve ranked higher if not for his long list of injury issues with San Francisco:
Garoppolo completed 67.2% of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in 11 games before a foot injury ended his season. He’s still a good passer who can be a mid-tier starter on the market. He is a timing-and-rhythm thrower who fits best in an offensive system tailored around the play-action route tree. The injury history factors into his ranking here, but make no mistake: He will have suitors on the market.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan ruled out Garoppolo returning to the Bay Area. Even if the door was open there though it’s hard to believe San Francisco would’ve been able to afford the veteran signal caller. He figures to get multiple years and more money than the 49ers are likely wanting to pay for the third QB on their roster.
One interesting name that was omitted from the list was do-everything defensive back Jimmie Ward.
While Ward had a tumultuous start to the year after being moved to nickel corner, he wound up being an asset on the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense at that spot. He landed in the NFL Top 100 as a free safety for his play last season, and casually made an in-season switch to nickel corner. That kind of versatility is a weapon for defensive coordinators. Ward is absolutely one of the top free agents in this year’s class, and he should be rewarded handsomely in the open market.
Picking free agents 49ers should try to re-sign in 2023