The San Francisco 49ers are eager to build around quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, but as the franchise focuses on building through free agency and the draft, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan will have difficult decisions to make with a pair of the team’s own free agents.
Running back Carlos Hyde and strong safety Eric Reid are no longer under contract with the 49ers, which means both players will be free to sign elsewhere this spring if they choose to do so. On Wednesday morning, Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee joined Murph & Mac on KNBR and offered his thoughts on whether each player will be back with the 49ers in 2018.
“My guess is that neither guy is back,” Barrows said. “And I’m not saying that it’s a lock, there’s a chance and the chance is because their markets aren’t very good and their markets would not be very good for very different reasons. Eric Reid’s might not be good because he’s associated with the national anthem protest.”
While Reid’s protests during the national anthem may limit interest from potential suitors around the league, Barrows said Hyde faces a different issue in free agency. With a glut of talented running backs preparing to enter the NFL Draft, teams might find an equivalent player who wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Hyde would this offseason.
“Carlos Hyde’s might not be good because boy, you watch all of these bowl games and it’s just one great running back after another and a lot of these guys are coming out in the draft,” Barrows said. So why would you spend a lot of money for a running back in free agency when you know you’re going to get a 22-year-old like Kareem Hunt who can run like the wind who’s got zero wear and tear on him that’s not nearly as expensive. So I think that’s going to hurt Carlos Hyde’s market. That could make it more palatable for the 49ers to sign him back, but my guess is that neither guy comes back.”
Barrows indicated it’s still possible both players return to San Francisco next season, but Hyde may find a potential 49ers’ contract offer underwhelming, while Reid may not want to ink a deal with a team that doesn’t plan to start him. Because the 49ers expect Jaquiski Tartt to start at strong safety next season, Reid may be the odd man out on defense, which could compel him to look at different options in free agency.
One potential landing spot for both players if they don’t return to San Francisco? The Seattle Seahawks.
“You’ve got to wonder for both guys whether the NFC West team to the north of us, the Seattle Seahawks could be the landing place,” Barrows said. “Kam Chancellor probably is not going to play again up there. Eric Reid obviously plays that exact spot. He’s still young too, he’s 26 years old, just turned 26 this past month. The other part with the Seahawks is that they desperately need a running game. That’s been a big missing element ever since Marshawn Lynch left Seattle. So they’ve seen Carlos Hyde. Carlos Hyde went over 100 yards this season once. Guess what team it was against? The Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 I think it was. Both of those guys seem to fit big needs up in Seattle.”
To listen to Murph & Mac’s interview with Barrows, click the podcast link below. To listen to Barrows discuss Reid and Hyde’s free agency situations, skip ahead to the 9:55 mark.