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Could sly 49ers snag top offensive free agents?

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers could be closing in on surprising signings to enhance Jimmy Garoppolo’s first full season and give their $137.5-million, prized quarterback a better supporting cast.
Marquee additions at offensive line and running back apparently are still in play heading into Wednesday’s 1 p.m. kickoff of free agency’s signing period.
The 49ers missed out on one potential target late Monday night with the report speedy wide receiver Allen Robinson intends to sign with the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter .
Job candidates linked to the 49ers by various reports include guard Andrew Norwell and running back Jerrick McKinnon. Surely more names will surface now that the 49ers are back on the NFL radar.
General manager John Lynch vowed to be “aggressively prudent” in free agency, but with over $50 million in salary cap space and cornerback Richard Sherman signed to a team-friendly deal, the 49ers have cash to burn.
Guard Andrew Norwell, shown here with the Carolina Panthers before Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium, could be on the 49ers radar in free agency. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) 
Norwell, widely considered the top offensive lineman in free agency, will choose between the 49ers, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts, according to NorthJersey.com.
Norwell figures to plug in immediately at left guard, which is where Laken Tomlinson started 15 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Detroit Lions. The 49ers will have an opening at right guard if they let 16-game starter Brandon Fusco go in free agency.
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Joshua Garnett, a 2016 first-round draft pick out of Stanford, is expected to compete for a starting job after not playing last season while rehabilitating a knee injury and re-conditioning his body.
Norwell earned his first All-Pro honor last season and has started every game each of the past two seasons at left guard for the Carolina Panthers, whom he joined in 2014 after going undrafted out of Ohio State.
“He is such a great team player,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said last season. “A big part of it is who he is as a young man, how hard he works, his dedication.
“He takes coaching very, very well. He takes constructive criticism very well. He applies it and improves himself. He is a heck of a football player.”
Norwell (6-foot-6, 325 pounds) did not allow a sack or quarterback hit last season. Inactive his first six games his rookie season, he’s been entrenched as a starter since then, though he did miss three games in 2015 with a hamstring injury.
Garoppolo got sacked eight times while going 5-0 as the 49ers starter at the end of last season. Center Daniel Kilgore and swing tackle Garry Gilliam received new contracts the past month, and the 49ers return starting tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown, and the latter is coming off shoulder surgery.
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At running back, with Carlos Hyde off to test the free-agent market, McKinnon could finally step into a full-time role after four seasons with the Vikings. McKinnon is fielding offers in the annual range of $6 million to $7 million and the 49ers are a team to watch, according to Minnesota’s 1500 ESPN radio host Shawn Zobel.
In starting just 14 of 58 games, McKinnon has totaled 1,918 rushing yards and 984 receiving yards. Last season he had 150 carries for 573 yards and three touchdowns, plus 51 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns.
Robinson, widely considered the market’s top wide receiver, had sounded more than just intrigued at the 49ers before Monday night’s news broke that he’s headed to the Bears.
“That’s a team that is for sure moving in the right direction,” Robinson said of the 49ers Monday on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio with host Adam Schein. “They have some of the things that Chicago has when it comes down to a quarterback, an offensive-minded head coach, a football city and tradition.”
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Robinson tore an anterior cruciate ligament in last year’s season opener with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a 2014 second-round draft pick, and he led the league with 14 touchdown catches in 2015.
With the top receiver off the market, the 49ers could use the draft to add to their current receiving corps of Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon and Trent Taylor.

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