The 49ers signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to , but they're probably not done spending money to rebuild their roster. Not only do the 49ers boast loads of cap space to lure free agents to San Francisco, but they now have a franchise-caliber quarterback who should attract top-tier players in free agency.
On Friday, at Garoppolo's celebratory press conference, 49ers general manager John Lynch admitted that the 49ers have a "long way to go." But he also expressed belief that getting Garoppolo signed for the long haul will improve their chances of landing some big fish in free agency.
Well, that and the Bay Area weather, of course.
"Heading into free agency, this is a big deal," Lynch said, per ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "It's 75 degrees and sunny outside, we've got this guy, who wouldn't want to be here? We want to become a destination where everyone wants to be. This is a big day for us but we've got a long way to go."
The 49ers entered the offseason with tons of money to spend in free agency, but they're now forced to spend $37 million of it on Garoppolo alone. Even still, the 49ers will have money to throw at free agents. According to Spotrac, they rank third in available space with $74,769,412 after the Garoppolo deal.
A year ago, the idea of the 49ers being an attractive destination for free agents would've been laughable. But the arrival of coach Kyle Shanahan and Garoppolo has turned them into an intriguing team on the rise heading into 2018. Though the 49ers finished 6-10 in 2017, they did so by winning their final five games, all of which were quarterbacked by Garoppolo.
On Friday, Garoppolo told "Gary & Larry" on KNBR that players are already reaching out to him.
"I mean that's kind've how this thing goes," Garoppolo said of players contacting him. "Guys reaching out to guys more than coaches and executives really. I've had -- just in the last 48 hours to be honest -- texts, I've had messages from guys and they're excited about it. Why wouldn't you want to be here? It's gorgeous outside year around. We're a young, upcoming team with a phenomenal coaching staff. It's an exciting time out here in the Bay Area, and hopefully a lot of guys want to experience that, too."
One free agent who could make a ton of sense? Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham. The 49ers' leading tight end last season was George Kittle, who hauled in 43 passes for 515 yards and two touchdowns. Graham finished similarly in the first two categories, catching 57 passes for 520 yards, but what separates him from Kittle and most other tight ends is his effectiveness in the red zone. Graham totaled 10 touchdowns last season, all of which came in the red zone. That's just what he does. Since 2010, only two players have caught more touchdowns that Graham (69).
For how well Garoppolo played in his limited action, he did struggle in the red zone. In his five starts, he led the 49ers into the red zone 24 times. They came away with a touchdown on only 11 of those 24 trips. A 45.8 success rate in the red zone would've been one of the worst in football over the course of the entire season. The 49ers need to improve more positions than just tight end, but signing Graham would fix one of their biggest problems.