Identifying 49ers’ Top Players to Avoid in the 2024 NFL Free Agency

The San Francisco 49ers need to refurbish their depth in certain areas during the 2024 NFL offseason.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 11: Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers looks on prior to Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

San Francisco is set to lose wide receiver Jauan Jennings and a few defensive linemen to free agency.

The 49ers will not be able to re-sign all of those players, so they should to fill depth in free agency.

Kyle Shanahan and his staff have to be selective about which players land in the Bay Area because they need to everyone to contribute to the push to return to the Super Bowl.

That means even the slightest of flaws in certain players could turn the 49ers away from prospective signings.

1. Maurice Hurst
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) eludes the rush of Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Maurice Hurst II (90) during the third quarter of the National Football League game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns on December 10, 2023, at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Maurice Hurst likely will not return for a second stint in San Francisco.

The defensive lineman turned in a solid 2023 campaign with the Cleveland Browns that included 1.5 sacks and three passes defended.

However, injuries have been a major story in Hurst’s career and the 49ers should know about that firsthand.

Hurst only played a complete season once in his career and his 2023 campaign was derailed due to a pectoral injury.

Injuries cost Hurst parts of the 2021 and 2023 seasons and all of the 2022 campaign. The 49ers can’t afford signing him only to miss a handful of games in 2024.

2. Brandon Graham

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 07: Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles rushes the passer during an NFL football game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on January 7, 2024 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The 49ers should not try to raid the free-agent list of one of their closest competitors in the NFC.

Brandon Graham is one of a few Philadelphia Eagles veterans who are expected to hit free agency, but the last thing the 49ers need is a veteran pass-rusher at the end of his career.

The 49ers would rather re-sign Chase Young or Clelin Ferrell or sign someone in a similar mold. A younger player with something to prove on a cheap contract would benefit them more.

Graham had 14 sacks over the last two seasons, and importantly played all 17 games in each campaign, but he does not fit the mold of player the 49ers want to fill out the defensive line depth they could lose with Young, Ferrell and Javon Kinlaw are hitting free agency.

3. D.J. Chark

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 24: DJ Chark Jr. #17 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

San Francisco should be in the market for a No. 3 receiver with Jennings hitting free agency.

Jennings’ breakout performance in Super Bowl 58 boosted his stock more and that could lead to a team overpaying for him in free agency.

The 49ers have to be smart with their replacement options and D.J. Chark should not make the shortlist of choices.

Chark struggled with the Carolina Panthers in 2023, as he caught just 35 of his 66 targets.

Chark ended with 525 receiving yards and five touchdowns, but it was still a disappointing campaign for the one-time 1,000-yard wide receiver.

The 49ers may be better off drafting Jennings’ replacement so they can save some money and spend at other positions.

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