The San Francisco 49ers have built themselves one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL. With that, every year they have to make really hard free-agent decisions. Luckily, in 2023-24, they have a Super Bowl to worry about before the offseason. Obviously, the latter is the priority right now, but free agency is definitely going to be a priority soon.
NFL Free Agency begins at 4 p.m. on March 13. That's about a month away. Whether the 49ers win or lose the Super Bowl, the celebration/recovery doesn't leave a ton of prep time. That could lead John Lynch and company to focus on their own free agents. They have some interesting ones.
There are definitely some big names that are seeing their contracts end this year. While Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Brock Purdy are locked in, there are others who could see themselves sign with a different team. Who will stick around and hope to build a dynasty, and which players will decide there are greener pastures?
Complete list of San Francisco 49ers free agents and predictions
Chase Young will sign with Buffalo Bills
Chase Young is getting a ton of headlines this week. He's a former second-overall pick who was traded to the 49ers from the Washington Commanders in the middle of the season. He's had varying levels of success, but some questions about effort make it very unlikely he will return. Some have brought up the possibility of a franchise tag, but that seems preposterous at this point. The Buffalo Bills will take chances this offseason, and Chase Young is a player with immense upside. They seem like the type of team to take this type of swing.
Sam Darnold will sign with San Francisco 49ers
Sam Darnold has been through a lot in his career. He was supposed to be the guy when he fell to the New York Jets in the NFL Draft. Many thought he was a lock to be the number-one pick, but the Browns instead went for Baker Mayfield, and the Giants were never picking anyone but Saquon Barkley. He couldn't live up in New York, and it was somehow even worse in Carolina. He needed a reset, and he got it in San Fran. We don't see him letting go of a good thing.
Javon Kinlaw will sign with Cleveland Browns
Javon Kinlaw would still be signed with the 49ers if they wanted to keep him long term. They declined his fifth-year option as a first-round pick. He's never lived up to his draft stock, and injuries derailed a promising career. He is still just 26 years old, and he's finally healthy heading into the Super Bowl. A big 'Big Game' could make him a ton of money, but he will probably get a chance to rebuild his value somewhere. Adding to a very good Cleveland Browns defense could lead to a huge contract in 2025.
Tashaun Gipson will sign with San Francisco 49ers
Tashaun Gipson signed with the 49ers very late in training camp, joining the team in August for depth in the secondary. He finishes the season as a starter in the Super Bowl. He will re-sign with the 49ers to bring a veteran presence to a team who might rest on their laurels without the right direction. Even if Talanoa Hufanga returns to full strength after a torn ACL, Gipson provides immense value to this team.
Ray-Ray McCloud will sign with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sometimes the best route forward is to go home, and that makes the most sense for Ray-Ray McCloud. He might be the first player to touch the ball in the Super Bowl, as he's the 49ers kick returner, but injuries have severely lowered his value this season. Ronnie Bell took the return duties when McCloud missed time with different injuries, including a broken wrist. Bell is a rookie, so he'll be around for a while. Meanwhile, McCloud will see an opening to go home to Tampa. He's a legend after committing to Clemson, and now he can return where he's had his most success.
Clelin Ferrell will sign with Arizona Cardinals
If the name Clelin Ferrell sounds familiar, he's the absolute reach Jon Gruden took with the fourth-overall pick in 2019. He had a rough career in Oakland/Las Vegas, hitting 4.5 sacks in his rookie year and never matching that number again. Now, he's hurt and won't suit up for the Super Bowl (but the fact he's returning to Vegas has some talking about him). He will go to a team next season with a chance to play. Arizona gives him such an opportunity, and head coach Jonathan Gannon could find something great out of him.
Brandon Allen will sign with Detroit Lions
Brandon Allen had a decent cup of coffee with the Cincinnati Bengals after a journeyman's career, but he didn't play a snap. He was the third-string behind a mostly healthy Brock Purdy and Darnold. There won't be many opportunities out there, but the Lions feel like a team that could use someone to play third string.
Charlie Woerner will sign with San Francisco
The 49ers need some depth behind George Kittle, as he isn't always the healthiest tight end. Woerner had some flashes as a depth player, and he'll returning to the team on a one-year deal.
Ross Dwelley may be out of the League
Ross Dwelley has signed four straight one-year deals with the 49ers. Then, this season, he caught one pass all season. The 49ers can find his contributions elsewhere for a similar minimum deal. Hopefully, Dwelley gets a Super Bowl ring on the way out.
Jon Feliciano will sign with New York Giants
Jon Feliciano is best known for his time with the Giants, but he left to sign with the 49ers. After making a run to the Super Bowl, his former team will bring him back to get better on the offensive line. The guard is making himself some serious cash this offseason even at 32 years old.
Keith Givens, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles need a new home, and it may not be the NFL
The NFL is a rough place, and dozens of people lose their jobs every season. These three players might get a training camp invite, but we'd be surprised if they are on rosters in Week 1 next season. They all had some semblance of upside once, but they just didn't prove themselves this year.