The Sacramento Bee
The 49ers early Wednesday morning made big news along the offensive line making a pair of notable signings.
First, they agreed to terms on a record-setting contract with free agent Trent Williams, who will sign a six-year deal worth up $138.06 million, making him far and away the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. His agency announced the news at 3:40 a.m. on the West Coast.
San Francisco wasn’t done. The 49ers addressed their glaring need at center by agreeing to terms with Atlanta Falcons free agent Alex Mack, according to a report from NFL Network. The Cal alum was named to the All-Decade team for the 2010s and has appeared in six Pro Bowls.
The 35-year-old reunites with Kyle Shanahan, with whom he played for previously in Cleveland and Atlanta in 2014 and 2016. Shanahan helped bring Mack from Cleveland to Atlanta in free agency and he helped the team reach the Super Bowl.
It all but confirms incumbent center Weston Richburg is likely done with the 49ers. Richburg recently had hip surgery, his third procedure since he last played in Dec. 2019 when he tore the patellar tendon in his knee.
It was believed the Kansas City Chiefs were making a strong push to sign Williams after releasing their two starting tackles over the last week. The belief is the 49ers had to increase their offer to account for California’s more burdensome 13% income tax against Missouri’s 5.4%. The Chicago Bears were also reportedly in the mix after agreeing to sign Andy Dalton to a $10 million deal to compete for the starting quarterback job.
Williams’ contract, if fully realized, far surpasses the other contracts for the league’s top tackles. Ravens star Ronnie Stanley signed a four-year, $97.75 million contract in October, while the Packers gave David Bakhtiari a four-year, $92 million deal in November. Those deals average $19.75 million and $23 million per year, respectively. Williams’ deal averages $23.01 million per season.
The 49ers had been working to get Williams re-signed for months leading into the start of free agency, but the eight-time Pro Bowler was steadfast in wanting to see his value on the open market. After all, elite left tackles in their primes rarely hit unrestricted free agency and the two sides agreed to a clause in his contract last offseason that prevented San Francisco from giving Williams the franchise tag this spring, which would have kept him under contract for $13.8 million fully guaranteed.
Yet even dating back to last season, Williams said returning to the 49ers was his No. 1 choice. He built a strong relationship with Shanahan and O-line coach Chris Foerster dating back to his time with Washington. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator when Washington made him the fourth overall pick in 2010.
“It’s been 11 years in this league and I have yet to see a franchise left tackle go to the open market,” Williams said in January. “I think it would be interesting to kind of see what value holds. But regardless, like I said, and I’ve always maintained the same thing, I think San Francisco is my No. 1 destination, and we’ll see how things work out.”
The 49ers on Sunday agreed to terms with fullback Kyle Juszczyk on a new five-year deal before landing agreements with cornerback Jason Verrett and Rams pass rusher Samson Ebukam during the first day of the negotiating period on Monday. The first year of those pacts gave San Francisco cap hits of $2.275 million, $5.312 million and $3.75 million for 2021, respectively, according to Overthecap.com.
That left the 49ers with roughly $20 million in cap space before the restructure of Dee Ford’s contract down to two years and $24 million, indicating the team won’t be getting rid of Ford this offseason after all. The restructure points to Ford not being able to pass a physical this spring and forcing the 49ers to hold on to him.
There was also movement on the slow-developing market for slot cornerbacks, which is notable if San Francisco wants to retain K’Waun Williams. Former Steelers defensive back Mike Hilton landed a four-year, $24 million deal with Cincinnati that includes $8.5 million in the first year.
Williams is could command something similar which could be in range for the 49ers depending on the structure of Williams’ deal.
— Possible backup quarterback options were taken off the market early this week, including a quick run Tuesday afternoon in the span of about an hour. It started Monday when journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with the Washington Football Team and sits on the top of their depth chart, for now.
Tuesday, former Bengals starter and Cowboys backup Andy Dalton reached a one-year, $10 million agreement with the Chicago Bears where he’ll have a chance to compete for a starting role, according to an ESPN report.
Tyrod Taylor, the former Bills and Chargers starter, signed for up to $12.5 million for one season with the Houston Texans, who are continuing to deal with the turmoil surrounding star quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Finally, the Miami Dolphins inked former Patriots and Colts signal caller Jacoby Brissett to a one-year deal, ESPN reported.
Shanahan and Lynch have reiterated they would be in the market for possible upgrades behind Jimmy Garoppolo, and multiple reports linked San Francisco to Dalton. But $10 million seems like a steep price given the team’s expensive roster.