49ers: Should Target Key Free Agents That Fit Need Instead of Want

The San Francisco 49ers need players that bring or have the size, toughness, physicality, accountability, impact, productivity, and that dog mentality that was recently discussed on Niners Live in defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week Seven.


In this article, we are going to feature free agents that we think the 49ers should target in free agency passed on the clearing position weaknesses in the roster. The 2016 season has shown and proved to the 49er fan base/community that the 49er coaching staff and roster is one that lacks the ability to compete at the highest level night in and night out, and has been one of the worst teams in the NFL. The offense lacks game changing playmakers, especially at wide receiver, the defense is awful, the front seven and secondary must be upgraded with hard-nosed, football savvy players who have an intense will to win. The 49ers rank second in the NFL in cap space, $42,876,893, and they are required to spend this offseason because of the CBA league rules.


Nose Tackle/Defensive Tackle/End

Dontari Poe, Kansas City Chiefs

  • Freakishly athletic for a man his size at 6’3” and 346 lbs, possesses nimble feet, short range explosion (4.98 sec 40-yard dash at NFL combine), and strength
  • Excels in the run game and can provide pass rush up the middle, 13 sacks in five seasons
  • Will require two blockers to block him consistently
  • Two-time Pro-Bowler (2013, 2014) and second team All-Pro (2013)

Brandon Williams, Baltimore Ravens

  • Ideal size for the position at 6’1” and 340 Ibs
  • Plays with a mean streak and comes from a defense known for a having a physical style of play
  • Ranked third at his position against the run in 2015 (Pro Football Focus)
  • Provides adequate push up the middle in the passing game

Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals

  • Size, 6’8” and 300 lbs, strong and athletic
  • Natural leader, hard worker, high football IQ, and high motor skills
  • Scheme versatile, can play defensive end and defensive tackle
  • Familiar with NFC West opponents

Outside Linebacker

Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals

  • Drafted by Bill Belichick, part of the Patriots’ last Super Bowl-winning roster
  • Sack artist, 44 sacks in five seasons, registered double digits sacks in a season twice (nfl.com)
  • Ideal size for 3-4 defense and can play defensive end in nickel and dime packages
  • Can bring a winning attitude to the roster, has playoff experience, and owns a Super Bowl ring

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants

  • Can play defensive end and has a rush outside linebacker
  • Feared pass rusher when at his best, 50 career sacks, with single-season high of 16.5 in 2011 (nfl.com)
  • Tall at 6’5” with long arms, has a knack for knocking passes down at the line of scrimmage
  • Playoff experience with a Super Bowl ring, two-time Pro-Bowler (2011, 2012), and first-team All-Pro (2011)

Melvin Ingram, San Diego Chargers

  • Has improved production in five-year career, 20.5 sacks in past three seasons
  • Plays in 3-4 defense and is also productive against the run
  • Plays with a high motor

Wide Receiver

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

  • Big play receiver who plays the ball aggressively in the air and can make highlight reel catches
  • Has size at 6’3” to be a threat in the red zone, 26 touchdowns in five seasons
  • Has the ability to get yards after the catch

Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland Browns

  • Converted to quarterback because of his physical attributes
  • Great combination of size and speed at 6’4” and 223 lbs, 4.38 in the 40
  • In first full-time season as a wide receiver, he has amassed 67 catches, 887 yards, and four touchdowns in 14 games


Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs

  • Intense player who has physical style of play, with high football IQ who can correctly align the secondary
  • Playmaker, plays the ball well in the air, can read the quarterback’s eyes and breaks on the ball, 13 career interceptions
  • Has the ability to score, two pick sixes and the first pick two in league history this season
  • Two-time First Team All-Pro (2013, 2015) and four-time Pro-Bowler (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015,2016)

Inside Linebacker

Zach Brown, Buffalo Bills

  • Prototype Mike 3-4 middle linebacker
  • Plays downhill and lays the lumber on tackles
  • Effective blister, four or more sacks in three seasons out of five

Jamie Collins, Cleveland Browns

  • Can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme
  • Plays the run aggressively and can cover running backs and tight ends
  • Effectively blitzes up the middle
  • Played for the Patriots and understands what it takes to win in the NFL

Donta Hightower, New England Patriots

  • Hard-nosed run defender
  • Versatile scheme can play inside linebacker and defensive ends
  • Winning pedigree has won a NCAA National Championship and Super Bowl

In closing:  This article could go on for days because of numerous additions that must be made to improve this roster. The team must concentrate on improving the front seven and they must add threats in the passing game. The 49ers should also look to add depth at the following positions: cornerback, quarterback, tight end, offensive line, and kick returner. The team must be major players in the 2017 free agency period; they have the cash and can’t be afraid to spend it. This team has flashed the ability to win games, but they lack game changers and not enough players who will do whatever it takes to win a game.  Simply put, this team lacks a winning mentality and that culture must change with the players between the white lines.

On a Niners Live side note: The 49ers just re-signed LB RAY-RAY Armstrong to a two-year deal.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jimi Payne Staff writer at Niners live.  Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.