The 2017 NFL contract season is officially underway. As of 1 p.m., eligible free agents were allowed to put ink to paper and formally sign deals for the upcoming NFL season.
Before, during and after this week’s two-day “legal tampering” period — in which agents are free to negotiate with any team in the league — an array of rumors and speculation swirled around all NFL 32 teams.
Among teams with a heavy presence in rumored moves were the San Francisco 49ers, who entered free agency with more than $99 million in cap space.
Thursday, several rumors turned into real moves, with the 49ers announcing the signings of former Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin from the Bills, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer and tight end Logan Paulsen from Chicago, Oakland linebacker Malcolm Smith, and Kyle Juszczyk, who has pent his entire four-year career with the Baltimore Ravens.
The 49ers look to be building an offense with which head coach Kyle Shanahan and company can at least compete — something the franchise has struggled to do since Jim Harbaugh was relieved from his coaching duties in 2014.
The bulk of these pickups seem to fit Shanahan’s offensive system in an attempt to reinvent a 49ers team as one of grit and toughness.
Additions like Juszczyk and Paulsen arrive with reputations of proficient blocking skills. Paulsen is regarded in NFL circles as perhaps the best blocking tight end in the league, per Fallon Smith of CSN Bay Area.
— Fallon (@FallonSmithTV) March 9, 2017
Pierre Garcon, who played under Shanahan when he was Redskins’ offensive coordinator from 2012-13, is expected to add a blue collar feel to a lackluster 49ers receiving corps, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report.
Appearing on 95.7 The Game, Cole referred to Garcon as a “lunch pail kind of a player who’s going to show up to work every day.” Garcon is expected to sign a three-year deal that would pay nearly $23 million in the first two years.
As far as the biggest hole in the 49ers roster, the addition of Hoyer at quarterback creates an interesting narrative to the 2017 offseason. Hoyer had a career year under offensive coordinator Shanahan in Cleveland in 2014, throwing for a career-best 3,326 yards.
While obviously not the long term answer, Hoyer could serve as a serviceable place holder until Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins hits the open market in 2018.
Cousins had publicly sought out a trade to land in San Francisco but was denied, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN. The Redskins placed a franchise tag of their signal caller for the second year in a row, worth nearly $24 million, and have no intentions of moving the quarterback in 2017.
San Francisco signed only one defensive player, Malcolm Smith, former Oakland Raider and Super Bowl XLVIII MVP. Smith is expected to sign a five-year, $26.5 million contract with $13 million guaranteed.
This move looks to shore up a shaky inside linebacking unit, but the lack of additional transactions on the defensive side could mean the 49ers are looking to address those needs in the upcoming draft.
The 49ers also made cuts Thursday to make room for their shiny new toys. 18-year veteran kicker Phil Dawson has reportedly parted ways with the franchise and has already signed a deal with the Arizona Cardinals.