49ers Free Agency: What’s Next After the First Wave
After the initial wave of NFL Free Agency this last week, the San Francisco 49ers still have several areas of the team they need to address. While the organization did fill out some holes on the roster with the signing of cornerback Charvarius Ward and return man Ray-Ray McCloud, the roster is far from complete. In the coming weeks, the 49ers need to make several of these moves if they hope to compete in the NFC next year and accomplish their ultimate goal of winning the sixth Super Bowl in franchise history.
Trade Jimmy Garroppolo
At the time of writing this article, the 49ers have a $25 Million cap hold on their roster in the form of a quarterback they no longer want. The team needs to clear Jimmy off the roster to free up that money and address areas of the team that need improvement. There are a few reasons why the 49ers have not been able to trade Jimmy G yet. Part of the problem is the timing of how the QB market shook out. The sweet spot to trade Jimmy was the 72 hours between Aaron Rodgers staying put and Russel Wilson being traded to the Broncos and Deshaun Watson being clear of criminal charges. That was the time to strike. The dominos had fallen after the Wilson trade and the 49ers had the opportunity to get Jimmy off the books and had several interested teams including Pittsburg, Indianapolis, and New Orleans. Well once Watson became available, New Orleans put the phone on hold to explore that option, Pittsburg called the 49ers bluff and went with the cheaper option in Mitch Trubisky leaving just Indianapolis as the only option. Indy has now been mentioned as an option if Deshaun goes to the Atlanta Falcons to acquire Matt Ryan. So the 49ers are really stuck now in a game of musical chairs and they might not have one to sit in. Maybe the Baker Mayfield situation in Cleveland opens them up as an option for Jimmy but right now it’s looking like the 49ers might be out of options. John Lynch and company clearly value Jimmy G more than the rest of the league does, and instead of freeing up money to be aggressive in free agency, they’re trying to milk every last bit of draft value out of him. Maybe this works out for the 49ers, but to make the rest of the additions to the roster that they want to make, they need to move Jimmy’s contract.
The offensive line was already an area in which the 49ers needed to improve. With the departure of Pro-Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson, that need becomes even more pressing. Many are speculating that last year’s second-round pick Aaron Banks will slide over to left guard, and that may be so, but the team needs to still look for more reinforcements. Dan Brunskill may be back to play right guard, but ideally, they would want to find an upgrade there. We also still don’t know how the Alex Mack situation will play out. He is considering retirement, and although the reports say he is leaning towards returning, if he were to leave the 49ers would have a glaring hole at center. At this point in time, I would say the 49ers line is “fine,” which is better than a lot of teams in the league, but “fine” is not the quality of line you want to have when you’re trying to win the Super Bowl.
Edge Rusher Opposite of Bosa.
This one may be an area that they elect to address in the draft. Currently, the 49ers have Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu, and potentially Dee Ford as options to be the other edge rusher with Nick Bosa. I like Ebukam and Omenihu, but to me, they are more rotational rushers than the stud guys you would prefer to have, and that’s ok. If they’re able to find another higher-end rusher they need to jump at their opportunity. Having that other guy would limit the number of double teams that Bosa would face and would make their pass rush an even more deadly unit than it already is. With a strong edge rusher class, this one I think is more likely that they address with their second-round pick. However, there are some players out there who they could add that would make an incredible impact this year. Za’Darius Smith comes to mind as a remaining elite edge rusher on the market as well as Jadeveon Clowney who is coming off his most productive season as a pass rusher. Maybe they go about trying to make a trade for a guy like Danielle Hunter from Minnesota, but the cap situation makes that unlikely. If they do look at more budget-friendly options to reload the line, Dante Fowler Jr, Arden Key, and maybe even Jason Pierre-Paul would be options.
Find A Nickel CB
The signing of Charvarius Ward was a good step in improving a cornerback room that struggled for the majority of last year. Ward can step in day one and be one of the starting outside CBs but the team still needs to address the inside nickel CB position. The team, in my opinion, has three ways they could go about this. One is to roll with what they have and move Emmanuel Mosley to that spot when they are in nickel packages and put Ambry Thomas outside with Ward. This would require the team to just simply add a depth CB who would most likely be Dontae Johnson or possibly Jason Verrett. Option number two is to sign a true nickel CB and keep Mosley outside with Ward giving them Thomas as a depth CB. Some potential options to look at if they go in that direction would be Bryce Callahan, Chris Harris, or bringing back K’Waun Williams. The final option would be to bring in another outside CB and slide Mosley inside. I could only see this scenario happen if they could add another high-caliber CB, someone like a Stephon Gilmore. The Ward signing was a nice one, but there is still work to do.
One More Impact Wide Receiver
The 49ers wide receiver group currently consists of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, and return man/slot guy Ray-Ray McCloud. To me, this group still needs one more impact guy, with a deep receiver threat being one of the more likely type of receivers they could target. The team has been rumored to be sniffing around Marquez Valdez-Scantling, but his market appears to be extremely competitive. I would absolutely love to see them reunite Julio Jones with Kyle Shanahan. Jones has battled injuries the last several years, but in a reduced role and with limited snaps, I think he could make an incredible impact for this team. Once again, this is a position that I believe could be addressed in the draft as there is no shortage of receiver talent this year. However, if the 49ers do wish to sign another receiver in free agency, there are still several targets out there who can make an impact.
Jimmie Ward is one of the most underrated safeties in the league and will be returning for next season, and hopefully beyond. The 49ers have an opening at the other safety position as Jaquaski Tartt is an unrestricted free agent. I personally would like to see Tartt come back, but reading the tea leaves, it seems like his days in San Francisco may be over. That leaves Tarvarius Moore and Talanoa Hufanga as the other in-house options to start at safety. While both of those guys are solid players, I think both of them would be a downgrade from Tartt. Unless the team goes after Tyrann Mathieu, it appears that all the high-end safeties are off the board at this point. There are some quality players that could still make an impact available at the position. Deshon Elliott, Kareem Jackson, Terrell Edmunds and Jabrill Peppers. Again I think there is a high likelihood that this is a position that gets addressed in the draft.