The 49ers have been eager spenders in free agency so far, dipping into their vault for multiple free-agent deals.
They’ve signed 11 players, including a pair of quarterbacks in Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, fullback Kyle Jauszcyk, receivers Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon and Aldrick Robinson, kicker Robbie Gould, defensive backs Brock Coyle and Don Nelson, tight end Logan Paulsen and linebacker Malcolm Smith.
Yet despite all the money spent so far, the 49ers remain in great position under the salary cap for more moves, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Yates reported Tuesday that San Francisco still has the most space under the salary cap of any team in the league at $73.9 million. And, said NFL Network analyst Ian Rapoport, the Niners have received bang for their bucks by bringing in solid players who will help create a new foundation for the rebuilding team under new general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
"They got smart, tough football players and they didn’t go crazy paying for them," Rapoport said. "And they didn’t create unreal expectations by signing the highest-priced guys at their position. I thought they did fine."
Lynch acknowledged to reporters after the team’s initial signings that he and Shanahan still “have a lot more room” to spend.
“So we’re in great position,” Lynch told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “If we don’t use the (salary-cap) room this year, we carry it over until next year. So we’re really excited about where we’re at.”
As Barrows pointed out, the carryover could be key in 2018 when a pair of quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo of New England and Kirk Cousins of Washington, are expected to become free agents.
As longtime Bay Area News Group columnist Tim Kawakami noted this week, Lynch and Shanahan – each with a six-year contract – have the luxury of taking a patient approach to rebuilding. They can pick up good, second-tier free agents and veterans to set the foundation and tone of what they hope to build. So far, that’s shown up in how they’ve approached free-agent spending.
Wrote Kawakami: “They’ve waded into the 49ers’ quarterback quandary, but they sure haven’t gone all-in on anything too pricey or set up a long-term solution. They’ve doled out parcels of their massive cap-space total, but they’ve saved a lot of it, either to pick up bargains in the coming weeks or … to hold back much of their capital for 2018.”