There are reasons the 49ers may not look like an attractive landing spot for big-name, free-agent head coaches.
For one, the ownership and front office look dysfunctional after essentially chasing away a proven winner in Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season. Also, the quarterback situation is questionable, the offensive line needs repair and the defense still hasn’t recovered from the losses of such stars as Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald. Plus, getting the 49ers up to speed in a strong NFC West -- where the Seahawks and Cardinals reign -- is a big hurdle.
But one thing that does put the 49ers in a positive light is the team’s salary-cap situation. The 49ers roster needs re-stocking, and San Francisco has the financial ability to pursue free agents – and re-sign some of it own – over the next few months.
According to a report this week by Chris Biderman on the website Scout.com, citing a review by Overthecap.com, the 49ers have the third most room available in the NFL, with a projected $53.5 million, behind only the Jaguars ($76.6 million) and Raiders ($67.9 million).
General manager Trent Baalke has in the past made some significant free-agent signings that have helped, especially on defense, bringing in contributors such as secondary starters Carlos Rogers. Antoine Bethea and Donte Whitner and lineman Glenn Dorsey. But, as Biderman also noted, Baalke struck out last year in bringing in cornerback Shareece Wright, running back Reggie Bush and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett.
Baalke, in fact, has said he’d much rather build through the draft than free agency – even with plenty of cap room.
“So to say we’re going to go out and because we have X number of dollars to spend, how are we going to spend that? Are you going to spend that on two players or are you going to spend that on 12 players? I don’t know. … We just have to make sure we use (the money) correctly.”
CEO Jed York, voiced a more wide-open approach to dipping into the team’s checkbook.
“We’re willing to spend what it takes to get everything right to get back to a championship culture,” he said recently. “You want to make sure you’re spending money wisely. So we will always continue to manage the cap. Trent and his staff know that if they need to spend the entire room (under the cap), they can do it.”