The San Francisco 49ers have been doing work ahead of the start of free agency in less than two weeks.
Mere days after announcing that former first-round pick Arik Armstead would return for a fifth season in San Francisco, the 49ers have reportedly re-signed starting right guard Mike Person to a three-year contract.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal calls for $9 million with just $3 million in guarantees. Person’s average annual salary is 31st among all NFL guards heading into free agency.
Given how well the 30-year-old interior lineman played last season, this has to be considered a major bargain. Person started all 16 games for the first time in his career last season — ranking No. 17 among all guards according to Pro Football Focus metrics.
This move pretty much guarantees that the 49ers will not be going after top-end interior linemen in free agency. That includes Los Angeles Rams stud guard Rodger Saffold.
Remember, San Francisco locked up starting left guard Laken Tomlinson on a three-year, $16.5 million deal last June. Tomlinson, 27, was previously acquired from the Detroit Lions for a fifth-round pick back August of 2017.
Tomlinson has started all 31 games in which he’s appeared with the 49ers over two seasons. He’s coming off a career-best performance.
In no way does this mean the 49ers are set at guard. Despite the front office talking up former first-round pick Josh Garnett, we’re not sure where he fits into the team’s long-term future after having played seven games over the past two seasons.
At the very least, San Francisco can’t rely on Garnett to be the primary backup at both guards positions.
This puts some under-the-radar veterans in play, including former Atlanta Falcons guard Andy Levitre. He started all 32 games under then-Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in 2015 and 2016. Much like Person, Shanahan’s relationship with Levitre could come into play.
This coming season will see the 49ers’ two starting guards count less than $7 million combined against the cap. With right tackle Mike McGlinchey still under his rookie deal, that will free up money to spend elsewhere.
San Francisco is currently $70-plus million under the cap and is expected to be big-time players in free agency. Taking care of business as it relates to both Armstead and Person only magnifies this further.