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Ian Rapoport praises 49ers for middle class approach in free agency



Now that the 20 hour work days are slowing down a bit, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was gracious enough to lend 15 minutes of his time to the Murph and Mac show on Tuesday.

The three big topics addressed: The 49ers’ haul of players, Kyle Shanahan’s reputation around the league, and where things stand with Kirk Cousins.

Rapoport said there are three ways to approach free agency: Be the big spenders, mostly sit out, or beef up your middle class. San Francisco did the latter.

“There’s been some draft picks that have been good. But mostly they have not drafted well,” Rapoport said. “So the only way to make up for that is to go build a middle class in free agency. And that’s what you did. I mean, I don’t know if Pierre Garcon is going to set anyone’s world on fire, but to me, that was a really smart signing. He’s a good receiver, he can help teach the system. Marquise Goodwin can be a really good player. Juszczyk is going to be a really good player. If you are really going to use your fullback as a tight end or an H-back — which the Niners are going to — then I don’t really care what you pay him. He’s not a fullback, he’s a tight end. So if you want to pay him $4 million for a tight end, who cares? Five million? Who cares, you know?

“To me, it’s just, they had a lot of space, it’s not my money, so what the hell do I care. Maybe they paid a little big of a tax for being bad, just like the Browns have to do. But look, that Earl Mitchell signing, I think is going to end up being a really good one. They got smart, tough football players and they didn’t go crazy paying for them. And they didn’t create unreal expectations by signing the highest priced guys at their position. I thought they did fine.”

On Monday, we reported Pierre Garcon did not field meetings with any other team. Hoyer also told KNBR.com that the Jets and Bills were wooing him so much, it felt like his draft day. That’s on top of an MMQB report that Juszczyk turned down more money to play here.

“I was not expecting guys to go run and play for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco,” Rapoport said. “I know he’s a very good coach. Anyone who watched the Falcons, or Redskins, or Browns knows that Kyle Shanahan is a very good coach. I didn’t expect free agents to go run and try and play for him. That’s kind of a different recruiting thing that caught me by surprise. Guys like Brian Hoyer had other options. Pierre Garcon, who obviously had other options, I was not expecting that.”

So what about the future of the quarterback position? Is Cousins still in play? Will they draft and develop? What do league circles expect from Hoyer in 2017?

“The other thing is, so, they could’ve gotten Kirk Cousins,” Rapoport said. “I think it’s pretty safe to say now he’s not in their plans for 2017. They could’ve gotten him. They could’ve given up their No. 2 pick, and signed him to a five-year, $125 million extension, and they would’ve had their quarterback of the future. But, so what? They are going to be better this year, but are they going to be 10-6 better? Like, I don’t know. And if they’re not, then why not not give up your No. 2 pick and wait until 2018 and make a run at him. Or draft someone.

“Look Brian Hoyer is not Tom Brady, but he is a very good quarterback. I mean when he has played, he’s been really good. I think the problem with Brian Hoyer is, and I hate this, but he was an undrafted free agent. And you just cannot get over that in this ridiculous world. I think if he was a second-round pick, nobody would be all about Brian Hoyer. But he had the Browns at 7-4 until Josh Gordon came back in the mix, poisoned the well, and they ended up going back with Johnny Manziel. He played really well for a bad Bears team last year before breaking his arm, which is not his fault. Brian Hoyer has played some really good football. I think he’s going to be fine. I really do.”