SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers got a head start on free agency by coming to terms with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Friday afternoon. Mitchell was available before the free-agent market opens on March 9 because the Miami Dolphins released him on Feb. 16.
Terms: Four years, $16 million, with $6.5 million guaranteed, $5.5 million in first year
Grade: C+ -- Mitchell isn't going to wow anyone with his statistical résumé, but the Niners found an opportunity to add some beef on the defensive line and didn't pay a crazy amount to make it happen. The Niners also believe he's a high character player who can add veteran leadership. It's a solid if unspectacular addition.
What it means: The Niners were abysmal against the run in 2016, setting a franchise record for futility in allowing nearly 400 more rushing yards than any other team. To the credit of general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan, they moved swiftly to address that need, especially with Glenn Dorsey about to hit free agency and only Quinton Dial and Mike Purcell as options for the nose tackle position on the roster. This likely means the end of Dorsey in San Francisco, but it shouldn't be the end of the Niners' quest for help stopping the run this offseason.
What's the risk: Mitchell dealt with a calf injury that cost him a big chunk of last season, though he was brought back from injured reserve in Week 10. When he played, his impact was minimal, as he posted 18 tackles in nine regular-season games for a run defense that was 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. At 6-foot-3, 310 pounds and 29 years old, Mitchell should be able to help, but the Niners would be wise to keep looking.