3 Free Agents the 49ers Need to Sign to Make a Super Bowl Run in 2023
After winning just six games in 2020, the San Francisco 49ers made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game during the 2021 NFL season. While there was a lot for the 49ers to be proud of, there's clearly some work to do if they want to be viewed as contenders next season.
One way that the 49ers can flesh out their roster is through free agency. San Francisco only has about $2.9 million in cap space, according to Spotrac, so management won't be able to splurge on high-end options. Nevertheless, there will still be cheaper options that could wind up being effective.
Here's a look at three free agents that the 49ers need to sign to make a Super Bowl run in 2023.
49ers Free Agency Targets
1. DeShawn Williams, Defensive Tackle
49ers defensive tackle D.J. Jones is set to hit free agency this offseason and might be looking for more money than San Francisco can afford following a career campaign. If they can't get him re-signed, the 49ers might need to look at a cheaper option like DeShawn Williams. The 29-year-old had a decent campaign with the Denver Broncos, recording a career-high 39 tackles, as well as a sack in 15 games (eight starts). He also put up five quarterback hits and broke up a pair of passes, showing that he can do it all. He is coming off an elbow injury, however, he is expected to make a full recovery. If the 49ers can sign him to a cheap "prove-it" deal, Williams' upside could help them get one step closer to a Super Bowl run.
2. Nick Martin, Center
49ers center Alex Mack is reportedly considering retirement this offseason, which could potentially leave a hole in the middle of their offensive line. With not much money to spend, management should consider targeting someone like Nick Martin. While he was used in a backup role for the Las Vegas Raiders last season, he started in each of his 62 games played in the prior four years, so the experience is there. When Martin last was a starter for the Houston Texans in 2020, he finished the campaign with only one sack allowed and four penalties taken on 980 offensive snaps. He'll likely be looking for a starting job this offseason and San Francisco might be the perfect destination if Mack does retire.
3. D'Ernest Johnson, Running Back
Make no mistake: Elijah Mitchell will likely be San Francisco's starting running back next season. At the same time, the unproven Trey Sermon is the team's only other RB under contract. Considering how there wasn't a 49ers RB who played more than 11 games in 2021, some additional backup is definitely needed. Management might want to consider someone like D'Ernest Johnson, who stepped up when the Cleveland Browns needed him last season. He recorded 534 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 100 carries, adding another 137 receiving yards on 19 catches. He had two 100-yard rushing performances despite only starting in two of 17 games and would be a reliable option should Mitchell miss more time. With the uncertainties that the 49ers faced last year, adding a proven backup could be the difference in a potential Super Bowl LVII run.
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Devon Platana is not a FanDuel employee. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.