With 25 players set to hit the open market at the start of the new league year, the San Francisco 49ers will look to replenish their roster via free agency and the NFL Draft. Monday marked the final day of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, one of the biggest offseason primers for that upcoming draft. During the week-long prospect evaluation process, general manager John Lynch shared insight into the team's positions of need, draft strategy and projections for several current players set to become free agents on March 15. As it stands, the team has signed long snapper Taybor Pepper to a year three-year extension and tendered wide receiver Jauan Jennings who was an exclusive rights free agent.
Here are five takeaways regarding the upcoming free agency period:
The 49ers do not expect to use the franchise tag on any player.
Per the NFL, a franchise tag is a designation assigned to one upcoming free agent, restricted or unrestricted, that allows teams to keep a player under contract for an additional year under predetermined salary conditions set by the league or negotiate a long-term deal by July 15. Tags come in the form of exclusive, non-exclusive and transition designations, and the deadline to tag a player is March 7. When asked at the combine if the 49ers expected to exercise this option, the general manager did not anticipate taking that course of action this offseason.
"We've obviously discussed that, but I don't as of right now. I do not," Lynch said.
Lynch praised Mike McGlinchey for his solid work at right tackle and projects plenty of interest in the offensive lineman during free agency.
"He's a really good football player," Lynch said. "Mike is the totality of his game. At right tackle, there's a couple of elite ones, the Lane Johnson's of the world, and he's right behind them in my mind... I see him being a coveted player."
McGlinchey is a former first round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and has spent the entirety of his five-year career with San Francisco. The 49ers general manager was quick to express his interest in having the offensive tackle return to the team, but as with many of the decisions this offseason, it's going to be about managing the team's needs and salary cap.
McGlinchey started all 20 of the 49ers contests in 2022, working in tandem with All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams. During the season, the right tackle allowed 6.0 sacks and just three quarterback hits.
There is interest in center Jake Brendel heading into the free agency period.
"We'd like him back," Lynch said. "He's a good player. I think he played very well for us, and we'd like to get Jake back."
Brendel was part of a brand new interior trio that included guards Spencer Burford and Aaron Banks on the 49ers offensive line during the 2022 season. After serving as a backup offensive lineman in his previous four seasons, Brendel got his first nod as a starter, playing the entirety of San Francisco's 20-game slate. He allowed just one sack and three quarterback hits on the way to the 49ers NFC Championship Game appearance.
Tashaun Gipson Sr. could be back for another year.
"I think he wants to play, and we'd like to have him back."
The 49ers general manager hinted strongly at a potential 12th season for the veteran safety, and there's interest in keeping Gipson Sr. The 49ers interception leader was a late training camp practice squad addition who quickly became a fixture in San Francisco's secondary alongside All-Pro Talanoa Hufanga.
Emmanuel Moseley is still an option for the 49ers.
"We like Moseley, who he is as a person, who he is as a player," Lynch said. "He fits us well and so that's a position that you always need depth, and if he can provide that I think it's a good thing for us."
The fifth-year cornerback is far from a done deal according to Lynch, but the hope is to move in that direction. Moseley is recovering from a season-ending ACL injury he suffered in Week 5 of the regular season versus the Carolina Panthers.