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Possible Free Agents for the 49ers Secondary

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said that he would be willing to help as a recruiter in free agency…

“If they need me to be, I have no problem with it, I think this is a pretty attractive destination as is, but money is the best recruiter. I’ll give my two cents. I’ll give you my best recruiting pitch.”

When asked if he would like to be reunited with his former teammate Earl Thomas, Sherman spoke candidly…

“Would I love to play with Earl Thomas III? I would love to. I would love to have him back in the locker room. But I’m sure he’ll have a plethora of opportunities, and I’m sure we’re going to throw our hat in the ring.”

Here are some possible targets, starting with Thomas:

S Earl Thomas (29)

Thomas would be an obvious fit in Robert Saleh’s defense and a reunion with Richard Sherman could do wonders for a young secondary. He turns 30 in May however, and is recovering from a lower leg fracture he suffered against the Cardinals in week four. If the 49ers are willing to take the same chance on him as they did with Sherman, the dividends could be immediate.

There will be plenty of teams vying for Thomas’ services, but the combination of entering into a familiar system and playing against his former team twice a year may be too difficult to turn down. His single finger salute directed at Seattle’s sideline while carted off the field is well documented.

S LaMarcus Joyner (28)

Joyner converted to safety in 2017 per his new defensive coordinator’s (Wade Phillips) request. The move was a resounding success and rather them letting their new found prodigy walk, the Los Angeles Rams franchised him for the 2018 season. He’s made $11.2 million this season, but his performance has dropped off significantly since breaking out in 2017. Joyner was ranked 6th among the top 10 safeties heading into 2018 by Pro Football Focus, currently he has a 74.9 grade, ranking 25th among all eligible safeties.[1]

The Los Angeles Rams probably wont be keeping Joyner after the 2018 season. If the 49ers can’t sign Earl Thomas, Joyner could make for a nice consolation prize. Pro Football Focus grades him out at 76.4 for  the 2018 season.

S Tyrann Mathieu (26)

Mathieu was originally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round (69th overall) of the 2013 draft. He signed a one-year contract with the Houston Texans back in March, worth $7 million. So far this season Mathieu has 69 tackles, 3 sacks, 8 pass break-ups, and 2 intersections. Pro Football Focus currently has him with a 74.6 grade.

Mathieu may not be a perfect fit in Robert Saleh’s defense, but he would surely make things interesting. He’s a very versatile player who can match-up at multiple positions as well as provide run support.[2]

CB Kareem Jackson (30)

Jackson has spent his entire pro career playing for the Houston Texans, who drafted him 20th overall in the 2010 NFL draft. While with the Texans, Jackson has accumulated 465 tackles, 2 sacks, 84 pass break-ups, 16 interceptions, 3 touchdowns, and 5 forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Jackson as the 4th-best cornerback in the league, with an 84.8 grade.

Jackson isn’t exactly the prototypical corner that Saleh prefers, but his addition would immediately solidify the cornerback position for San Francisco. His leadership and experience could prove to be invaluable to a young group who have struggled all season.

CB Ronald Darby (24)

The Eagles acquired Darby in a trade with the Buffalo Bills back in 2017. In nine games this season he has 39 tackles, 12 pass break-ups and one interception. Last year Darby was able to rebound from a dislocated ankle to help the Eagles win their first Super Bowl Championship. Unfortunately, Darby was hit with another injury in week 10, suffering an ACL tear against the Dallas Cowboys, ending his season. Darby was rated 25th in Pro Football Focus’ top NFL players under 25 list.[3]

Signing players coming off ACL injuries has not been a successful venture for the 49ers, but Darby’s young age and talent level could be enticing enough to take chance.




  1. ^McGuinness, Gordon (July 26, 2018). “Harrison Smith paces the NFL’s top 10 safeties heading into 2018”. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  2. ^Colangelo, Michael (March 27, 2018). “8 best free agent cornerbacks and safeties in 2019”. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  3. ^Whitefield, Brett (May 17, 2018). “PFF’s top 25 NFL players under 25 for 2018”. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
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