17 players are set to become free agents this spring. View all of them in one place.
The San Francisco 49ers have major decisions that lie ahead as we are just over a month out from the start of NFL free agency. All teams deal with their share of turnover to some degree, however San Francisco has 14 impending unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents who may potentially hit the open market next month.
To understand the difference in designations, here are the respective definitions of each NFL free agent grouping, according to NFL.com:
Unrestricted Free Agent – Any player with four or more accrued seasons and an expired contract; free to negotiate and sign with any team.
Restricted Free Agent – A player with three accrued seasons and an expired contract. RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers ("tenders") that come with the Right of First Refusal and/or draft-pick compensation.
The 2020 league year and free agency period begins March 18 at 1:00 p.m. PT. It's worth following along to see which of the 49ers impending free agents could potentially remain in the Bay Area next season. Here's a look at all 17 free agents and how they fared in 2019:
The 32-year-old veteran receiver appeared in 10 games in San Francisco after being traded from the Denver Broncos in mid-October. Sanders posted 36 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns in his first season with 49ers. He averaged 13.9 yards per reception, tied for the second-highest average of his 10-year NFL career.
Ward is coming off of the most productive season of his six-year NFL career. The safety appeared in 13 games in the regular season and posted eight passes defended, 60 combined tackles and a sack.
Verrett suffered an ankle injury during training camp and missed the entire preseason. He went on to appear in one game this season and was placed on Injured Reserve shortly after with a knee injury.
Statistically coming off of his best season with the 49ers, Armstead amassed a team-high 10 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 54 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles over 16 games in San Francisco. Armstead was a key cog in San Francisco's defensive line that tied for fifth in the league in sacks with 48.
As one of San Francisco's prized offensive linemen heading into the season, Coleman suffered a dislocated ankle in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Coleman was expected to provide much needed depth at swing tackle.
Garland stepped in for Weston Richburg in Week 14, as the 49ers starting center suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon. There was little to no drop off with Garland plugging in at center, appearing in nine games with three starts in the regular season.
In his seventh NFL season, Toilolo appeared in 13 games and primarily served as a run blocker in Kyle Shanahan's offense that owned the second-ranked rushing offense. He caught both of his targets in 2019 for 10 yards.
Moore made a strong bid to make the 49ers roster through training camp and the preseason. After not making the initial roster, Moore remained available in Week 10 after a season-ending injury to Ronald Blair III. In his first game with San Francisco, Moore sealed the 49ers victory over the Arizona Cardinals with a forced fumble with :25 seconds left in the game. Moore appeared in two games before being placed on Injured Reserve with a broken forearm.
Matthews signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2019. The wideout did not initially make the 49ers roster cuts, however was re-signed three weeks into the season. Matthews played three offensive snaps before being released again in Week 7. He spent two games with the Philadelphia Eagles before being released by the team. Matthews returned to the 49ers in Week 15 after a season-ending injury to Marquise Goodwin.
Johnson was released by the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4 and signed with the 49ers a week later. The veteran cornerback provided secondary depth and appeared in seven games on special teams.
DT Sheldon Day
Day appeared in all 16 games for San Francisco, with two starts, as a major part of the 49ers defensive line rotation and notched a sack and two quarterback hits. He also stepped in at nose tackle in place of D.J. Jones, who was lost for the season with an ankle injury.
Zettel was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals in mid-April and appeared in four games and registered five tackles prior to being waived by the team on December 17. Zettel was signed by the 49ers ahead of Week 17 and appeared in four games including the postseason.
Blair's fourth season in San Francisco was cut short due to a season-ending ACL injury following a sack against Russell Wilson in Week 10. Blair appeared in nine games and recorded 3.0 sacks, three quarterback hits, 21 total tackles and a fumble recovery.
After eight seasons in San Francisco, Celek announced his retirement from the NFL via Instagram. The second-longest tenured member of the 49ers opened the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, before being activated in Week 9. He appeared in five games and was placed on Injured Reserve ahead of Week 14.
LB Elijah Lee (RFA)
Lee was activated off of the team's practice squad following Kwon Alexander's pectoral tear in Week 9. In his third season in San Francisco, Lee appeared in eight games with one start. Lee registered 40 percent of special teams snaps in 2019.
RB Matt Breida (RFA)
In Year 3 in San Francisco, Breida appeared in 13 games with five starts. He rushed for 623 yards and one touchdown and averaged 5.1 yards per attempt. He also added 120 receiving yards on 19 receptions and a touchdown. His most memorable play was the opening drive against the Cleveland Browns where Breida broke free for a career-long 83-yard touchdown carry.
WR Kendrick Bourne (RFA)
Bourne appeared in all 16 games with the 49ers and registered 358 receiving yards on 30 receptions (11.9 yards per reception) and five touchdowns in 2019.