49ers Urged to Sign ‘Cheap’ Deal for Projected $11 Million Star

The San Francisco 49ers could find themselves in a good or bad news situation now that NFL free agency is just about to run its course.

The bad news is that they did not upgrade their depth at cornerback, with Charvarius Ward locked in on one side and only Deommodore Lenior set on the opposite side.

The good news is that the price to do so has dropped dramatically, and the 49ers could potentially afford to add former NFL champion and five-time Pro Bowler Stephon Gilmore to the mix.

A little bonus: Gilmore would come via Dallas, where he spent last year posting a very good season for the Cowboys, who are undergoing a bit of a purge as they deal with cap issues.

The Cowboys have lost five starters and have done little to replace them—they did swipe 49ers linebacker signee Eric Kendricks—meaning they do not figure to be as much of a challenge to the reigning NFC champion 49ers as teams like the Eagles, Lions and Packers next year. Seeing Gilmore flip from Dallas to San Francisco would be salt in the Cowboys wounds.

At Bleacher Report, writer Matt Holder sees Gilmore as a bargain answer to the 49ers’ depth problems in the secondary:

“San Francisco entered the offseason needing an upgrade at the defense’s second starting cornerback spot. However, the front office was handcuffed by a lack of cap space.

“Now that it’s several weeks into free agency and Gilmore is still available, he might be willing to take a cheaper deal to play for a Super Bowl contender like the 49ers.”

Now, it is not an emergency situation for the 49ers at cornerback. Lenoir was not bad last year, and made for a good tandem with Ward. But Ambry Thomas was a bit out of his depth when he got playing time, and the 49ers might be more comfortable going with veteran Isaac Yiadom.

Ward was No. 5 on Pro Football Focus’ list of 127 cornerbacks last year. Lenoir was No. 23. Thomas ranked just 75th while playing 573 snaps, where Yiadom was 10th and played 517 snaps defensively.

Gilmore played all 17 games for Dallas last year, but he struggled in the playoffs with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Still, he is expected to be ready for 2024. He has a championship pedigree, having helped the Patriots to a Super Bowl win at the end of the 2018 season.

Gilmore might be available on the cheap, given where the market is. He is coming off a contract in which he earned $20 million over two years, originally signed by the Colts in 2022. According to Spotrac, he has a market value of $11.4 million on a one-year deal.

Given his age, that makes some sense. Pro Football Focus projects a Gilmore deal at one year, $10 million. The site summed up his free-agent credentials:

“Gilmore’s trade from the Indianapolis Colts to the Dallas Cowboys this offseason got him back to playing contending football, and he hasn’t skipped a beat at any point as he’s moved around over the past few years.

“Gilmore still thrives in single coverage and can jostle with the more physical receivers who play through contact, timing his leap well on contested catches and jumping routes with top-end play recognition.”



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