Could the San Francisco 49ers be in the market to lure in one top 50 free agent for the 2022 cycle?
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“Bully ball” was the description for the offense the 49ers ran during their run to the NFC championship game. The power running attack would go on and finish seventh in total ground-based yards and fifth in rushing touchdowns according to Pro Football Reference.
But even a stout ground-and-pound approach could use some help to surpass the Rams atop the league — regardless if its someone from the free agent pool or perhaps one who is expected to enter free agency on March 16 on the 49ers’ side.
Good news for the 49ers faithful: One insider wrote on Tuesday, February 15 that he expects a prized free agent in this ’22 class will soon chat with the 49ers.
Who Could Talk With the 49ers’ Brass?
The person of interest is someone who knows the 49ers real well: Pro Bowler Laken Tomlinson.
That’s right, the high-powered guard who bulldozed defensive linemen alongside Trent Williams is expected to soon begin discussions with the 49ers about a new deal, per ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler.
Fowler tag teamed with fellow ESPN colleague Matt Bowen in their Tuesday article titled “Best NFL Team Fits for Top 50 Free Agents 2022.” Fowler expects the 49ers to open a line of communication with the 30-year-old left guard, who was ranked as the No. 38 best free agent available.
“Tomlinson thrived in Kyle Shanahan’s system, and if San Francisco doesn’t re-sign him, reuniting with Mike McDaniel is the next best option. Expect the 49ers to open extension talks closer to free agency,” Fowler said.
That’s excellent news for a team that not only will seek to keep as many faces from their NFC title game run, but also plan to extend deals for two “pillars” as general manager John Lynch described in Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa.
Tomlinson, though, is coming off one of his best seasons to date: Making his first career Pro Bowl appearance after seven seasons in the league. Tomlinson expressed his gratitude toward what the 49ers have done for him following the NFC title game loss.
The Other Possible Option for Tomlinson
Tomlinson first signed on with the 49ers via trade by the Detroit Lions with a three-year, $16.5 million deal.
Per Spotrac, the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder held a base salary of $4.5 million for 2021.
Depending on who the 49ers can keep and allow to walk, will there be enough on the table for Tomlinson to stay in the Bay?
Bowen believes that Tomlinson won’t be back. However, he’s writing that Tomlinson is a “logical choice” for one AFC team that is led by a former 49ers coordinator.
“With McDaniel now in Miami, the Dolphins must address the offensive line to fit his run scheme. Tomlinson is the logical choice here, to combo and chip on zone schemes with blocking angles created by the pre- and post-snap movement in McDaniel’s system,” Bowen wrote.