San Francisco 49ers free agency recap: Who is joining & leaving the Red & Gold in 2023?

Mar 21, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:38 pm

Jimmie Ward #1 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after an interception during the fourth quarte...

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Jimmie Ward #1 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after an interception during the fourth quarter in the game against the Washington Commanders at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

After the first week of 2023 NFL free agency, the San Francisco 49ers have made some serious moves on both sides of the football.

The biggest signing came on day one, with the team agreeing to terms with former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave on a four-year deal. The deal is reportedly worth $84 million with $40 million guaranteed.

But with such a big signing, San Francisco had to say goodbye to a handful of impactful players this spring. With that being said, here’s whose joining the 49ers, and who is already gone.

Who’s joining the 49ers in 2023?

Hargrave is easily the biggest signing the 49ers have made this offseason, inking a lucrative deal that will take up over 10% of the salary cap in 2025. The 30-year-old’s play backs it up, recording 60 combined tackles, 11 sacks and 16 QB hits last season. Now joining a frontline of Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead, “Gravedigger” should wreak havoc for opposing teams.

The 49ers weren’t done there, bulking up the defensive trenches further with defensive end Clelin Ferrell.

A former Las Vegas Raider, Ferrell underperformed in his first four seasons, registering a total of 10 sacks. Nevertheless, the 49ers have had past success with reclamation projects, like Arden Key or Samson Ebukam, turning them into valuable contributors on edge. Ferrell believes 49ers’ defensive line coach Kris Kocurek could be the key to turning his NFL career around, and based on past experiences, he may be right. Only on a one-year deal, it could be know-or-never for the former fourth-overall pick.

The Red & Gold also restocked the secondary, signing versatile defensive backs Isaiah Oliver and Myles Hartsfield for next season.

Oliver spent the last five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, becoming one of the better run-defending DBs in the process. Able to play all over the back seven, the Colorado alum feels most comfortable in the slot, mainly playing there for the 2022 season. He finished the year with 37 combined tackles, seven passes defended, one sack and one INT.

Hartsfield is similar to Oliver, playing all over the field for the Carolina Panthers for the last three years, with 2022 his best season, recording 59 combined tackles, two passes defended and one forced fumble in 15 games. Expect the 25-year-old to add depth for the 49ers, providing competition for the youngsters in the secondary.

San Francisco also added on the offensive side of the ball, signing quarterback Sam Darnold to a one-year deal.

Darnold, 25, spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, keeping them in playoff contention until the very end of the 2022 regular season. He finished 2022 with a 4-2 starting record, throwing for 1,143 passing yards, seven TDs and three INTs. Darnold will compete for the backup QB spot this season, insurance for both Brock Purdy and Trey Lance.

San Francisco also added on the offensive line with OL Jon Feliciano. Able to play all five positions on the line, the former New York Giant will be vital depth for the Red & Gold in 2023.

Who’s not returning for the 49ers in 2023?

The Red & Gold have had their fair share of departures this offseason, with several big-name starters leaving the Bay.

On offense, QB Jimmy Garoppolo is the biggest name, signing a three-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders last week. Jimmy G leaves the 49ers after six seasons, taking the Red & Gold to Super Bowl LIV in 2020. He finishes his 49ers’ tenure with a 38-17 record as a starter, throwing for 13,599 yards, 82 TDs and 42 INTs.

The 49ers also lost starters on the offensive line, with right tackle Mike McGlinchey and offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill both finding new homes.

McGlinchey signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Denver Broncos, making him one of the most expensive right tackles in football. Drafted by the Red & Gold in 2018, McGlinchey played all 20 games for the 49ers last season. Despite finishing with a good 71.5 PFF grade, the Notre Dame alum was flagged for the eighth-most penalties in 2022 (10), also allowing six sacks last season.

Brunskill will also be missed, signing with the Tennessee Titans. Able to play across the line, the former 49er played in 14 regular-season games for SF in 2022, rotating with rookie guard Spencer Burford. Playing on 518 snaps, Brunskill was never flagged nor allowed a sack last season.

The 49ers lost the most defensively, losing four valuable players from the 2022 roster to free agency. Safety Jimmie Ward and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley are the lone starters, joining the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions for 2023.

Ward was the longest-tenured 49er, drafted by the team back in 2014. Before the start of the 2022 season, the 49ers moved Ward to nickel, allowing safeties Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson to start. Despite playing out of position, Ward put up good numbers, finishing with 50 combined tackles, five passes defended, three INTs and one forced fumble. He now joins former defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans in Houston.

Moseley is also coming off a good season until he tore his ACL in Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers. Despite the injury, “EMan” is expected to be fully healthy for the start of training camp. He finished 2022 with 22 combined tackles, five passes defended and one pick-six.

San Francisco also lost two vital rotational pieces in linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and DE Jordan Willis.

Al-Shaair is joining Brunskill in Tennessee, inking a one-year deal with the Titans. Used as the sub linebacker, the 25-year-old recorded 44 combined tackles in 2022. He’s delivered in a starting role as well, racking up 102 combined tackles and five passes defended in 2021.

Jordan Willis was also a valuable contributor down the stretch. He signed with the Raiders on a one-year deal. Coming to the 49ers in the middle of the 2020 season, the Kansas State alum recorded 7.5 sacks, 27 combined tackles, 14 QB hits and two forced fumbles.

Stay locked in at Sactown Sports for all things NFL & 49ers.


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