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49ers lose out to Jaguars on the one free agent they really needed

The San Francisco 49ers‘ dream off-season has ended, and now the post-honeymoon grousing will begin.

The best free agent wide receivers, Allen Robinson (to Chicago) and Sammy Watkins (to Kansas City), are gone, and worse still, so is the best available offensive lineman, Andrew Norwell (to Jacksonville). Plus, Drew Brees decided to stay in New Orleans rather than be Jimmy Garoppolo‘s backup.

We are joking on that last one. Some.

Either way, general manager John Lynch and his magic way with a checkbook is now damaged. He cannot buy every free agent with a flash of cash and a picture of The New G.

To be sure, it never plays out that way, but losing Norwell to the Jaguars hurts the business because the 49ers need to keep Garoppolo upright more than any other task on their board. Norwell was not a glamorous signing, not like Watkins or Robinson, but the fact that the Jaguars needed him to keep Blake Bortles safe is its own weird tale.

And yes, this is Snap Judgment Theatre because every day of free agency is like a new trade deadline, where the lure of movement is always greater than the effectiveness of the landing. This has been true since the first person came up with the concept of “winning the off-season,” a phrase which should have bought its author a long prison stretch.

But if we are making a big deal out of the 49ers getting Richard Sherman over the weekend, we must by law make a big deal out of all the players they don’t get as well, and this runs true for the Raiders and the other 30 companies as well. Keeping score of signatures, while an essentially pointless exercise, must include every detail.

There are of course other aisles and other shopping opportunities. Free agency, sadly, does not only last two days, and monitoring the market is an endless chore . . . emphasis on “chore.” But the 49ers have for the first time this off-season missed on a priority get in Norwell, which means if nothing else that we get to remember that the 49ers are still just just one wallet among many.

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