The San Francisco 49ers went their separate ways last week following the close of the season, but they had a chance to meet with the media on that final Monday. Dan Skuta was among the players who spoke, and his comments were not exactly surprising. He talked about wanting to improve and become a 10-sack, Pro Bowl type of player. Skuta finished the 2014 season with 5.0 sacks, which tied him with Justin Smith for third behind Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks (6.0).
Skuta heads into free agency coming off his best season as a pro. He got extensive playing time due to Aldon Smith's suspension, and he was able to take advantage of that opportunity. Prior to 2014, he had 0.5 sacks for his career. He talked about being a step or two away from several sacks in 2013, and being able to close the deal in 2014.
Skuta has been a valuable contributor to the 49ers, serving as a strong special teams option, and developing into a capable fill-in at outside linebacker. The question now is whether he returns, and in what kind of role if he does. As you have probably noticed, we have not had much discussion about 49ers free agents yet. We'll be doing some cap specific stuff soon, but we cannot fully assess the free agents before a new coaching staff is installed.
Given the 49ers defensive success, we could see little turnover in how the team plays, and the schemes they use. However, if an external hire ends up being the choice, it is hard to tell what exactly the team will do. Add in the departure of Ray McDonald, and the potential retirement of Justin Smith, and do we potentially see a shift in the 49ers defensive scheme? There has been some chatter here about whether or not the 49ers might switch to a 4-3, and a new defensive coaching staff could decide that is the best fit. There is no guarantee of that, but the potential would seemingly at least be on the table.
If that is the case, do we see Dan Skuta on the roster in 2015? It is certainly possible, but if he is looking to become a bigger sack guy, a switch to a 4-3 would not really bode well. If the 49ers stick with the 3-4, it will depend on how the team views Aaron Lynch heading into 2015. If they think he will be the starter, Skuta might decide there are greener pastures out there.