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What the Free-agent Additions Mean for the 49ers

Posted Mar 10, 2017

John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have been busy adding key pieces to the 49ers roster. Read why the past two days have been so important for the organization.

We aren’t sure if it’s a record, but seven free-agent signings represents a productive first day of NFL free agency. Three more free agents were added on Friday. It’s a clear message that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are wasting no time in reshaping the San Francisco 49ers roster.

But what does it all mean, both in the short and the long term? Bar Pierre Garçon (and maybe Brian Hoyer), the recent additions aren’t necessarily household names. Rather, they’re chess pieces, brought to San Francisco for specific purposes. Some are proven veterans who have played under Shanahan previously. Others are less familiar to the 49ers new regime, but bring with them a specific set of skills.

"It's a great afternoon,” John Lynch said at the beginning of Friday’s press conference to introduce the first seven players signed during free agency. “We're excited as all 49ers fans should be. We got a haul."

Let’s breakdown those seven.

Garçon is a dependable receiving threat who has proven he can thrive in Shanahan’s offense. The veteran’s career-year came under Shanahan in 2013 when he led the NFL with 113 receptions.

Brian Hoyer provides a veteran leader at the quarterback position with legit starting experience. He has prior experience in Shanahan’s offense and will have a prime opportunity to be the 49ers Week 1 starter.

Marquise Goodwin has track-star level speed and mentioned at length on Friday that he’s ready to show he can do more than run “go” routes. Some analysts have tabbed him as a candidate to fill Taylor Gabriel’s role in Shanahan’s scheme. (Gabriel set career-highs under Shanahan in 2016 with the Atlanta with 579 receiving yards and six touchdowns.)

Kyle Juszczyk is a do-it-all fullback who lines up all over the field. Lynch said boldly that, “We wanted to make Kyle Juszczyk the highest paid fullback in the league.” San Francisco’s GM dubbed the versatile playmaker as an “offensive weapon,” who isn’t limited to a specific position designation.

Malcolm Smith is a former Super Bowl MVP who will stabilize the 49ers linebacker corps. Smith said that defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was a huge selling point for him. Smith and Saleh spent a few years together with the Seattle Seahawks. The linebacker will now assume a similar role in the 49ers defense.

Logan Paulsen is a heralded blocking tight end with experience in Shanahan’s offense from his days with the Washington Redskins.

Robbie Gould is the seventh-most accurate kicker in NFL history, which is even more impressive considering that he spent 11 years in the harsh conditions at Soldier Field in Chicago.

What’s maybe most encouraging about the past 48 hours is the undeniable reality that free agents are eager to be a part of the new beginning in San Francisco. And amid each player’s rationale for signing with the 49ers, there was one common denominator: The desire to play for Shanahan.

“I can’t say enough good things about Kyle Shanahan,” Paulsen said during the presser. “I feel very privileged to play for him again.”

Added Garçon, who said Shanahan was the only sales pitch he needed before agreeing to terms in San Francisco: “He’s definitely an offensive guru. … I’m happy to be reunited.”

Juszczyk is one of the new additions who hasn’t played for Shanahan previously. So the fullback consulted the likes of former NFL tight end Owen Daniels and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub, both of whom are familiar with Shanahan.

“I heard how much I would love (his offense) and that Kyle is the absolute best at putting his players in a position to thrive,” Juszczyk said. “They all told me that this was the place for me.”

Sure, dollars and cents talk, but it was evident on Friday that the excitement of joining what Lynch and Shanahan are building in San Francisco far outweighed any apprehension about a 2-14 record in 2016. And right now, with meaningful games still months away, that’s all anybody can ask for.

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