The San Francisco 49ers spent Saturday adding four players that will provide depth at running back, offensive line and cornerback. While none of the additions are guys we can expect to be significant game-breaking additions, they could provide some positives on both sides of the ball.
Chris Cook was actually doing some good things last season before it was cut short due to injury. I don't that it will be enough to secure a huge role, but he could very easily become the 49ers dime back in 2015. If he can stay healthy, there's a chance he ends up the most valuable of the four additions.
Some will say, but what about Reggie Bush? While Bush still can make some plays in the passing game, we are a long way from Reggie Bush, USC freak of nature. He thinks he still has something left, so we'll see what exactly the coming offseason brings. I hope for the best, but when a team signs an older player, there's always that worry that they won't get quite what they were hoping for. He very well could surprise us all, but it is probably best to keep expectations fairly low.
The 49ers are likely to add more depth at some point, but they probably will not be doing a ton more work in free agency. My guess is any additions will happen after that June 1 mark when regular free agents no longer count against the comp pick formula (potentially changed to May 1 pending upcoming league meetings).
In the meantime, the NFL Draft is a month and a half away. The 49ers hold seven picks, and will get one or two comp picks announced in a week at the league meetings. They hold the 15th overall pick, which provides plenty of options. Mock drafts have the 49ers looking at a mix of wide receivers and cornerbacks, primarily. Some have mentioned defensive line and offensive line, with a random mix of other positions.
When the 49ers signed Torrey Smith, the immediate thought was this removed wide receiver from the mix for that first round pick. Additionally, a lot of people figured this meant cornerback would climb to the top. In reality, I don't know that any of that has changed. I don't even know that a given position's chances of being picked has decreased if the right guy is there.
The wide receiver position is looking fairly solid with the addition of Smith, but Anquan Boldin is still due to hit free agency after next season. He could decide to retire, or go somewhere else, and of course with another solid season he could be back with the 49ers. Either way, the position is not exactly secure after Torrey Smith. We don't know what the team thinks of Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington, although a first round receiver would tell us something.
Cornerback certainly makes sense if the team is not completely sold on a Tramaine Brock, Dontae Johnson, Jimmie Ward starting three. The team has not invested a first round pick in the cornerback position since Mike Rumph in 2002. Since then, they have used a second round pick on Shawntae Spencer, and a third round pick on Chris Culliver. They added Jimmie Ward last year, but while he did play nickel back, he is viewed as a long term safety option.
I do think the team invests in the cornerback position in the draft due to the youth and injury question marks at the position. However, I could see them waiting a bit to fill the need.
And that brings us to the trenches. I would not be at all shocked to see the team go defensive line in the first round. Even if Justin Smith returns in 2015, that is likely his final year. They have quite a few options to fill in along the line, but none is really anything resembling a sure thing. Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams are coming off injuries. Tank Carradine has a ton of talent, but it remains to be seen where it will lead. Quinton Dial and tony Jerod-Eddie will get opportunities, but they have some work to do to prove they can be starters. Defensive line just makes a lot of sense long term.
Offensive line is a little less likely in my mind, but not entirely out of the realm of the possible. We all hope Brandon Thomas recovers from his ACL and can take over at guard with the departure of Mike Iupati. However, beyond just the injury, there is also the fact that Alex Boone is a free agent in 2016. I suppose Joe Looney could emerge as an option, or Daniel Kilgore or Marcus Martin end up splitting up center and guard duties. However, there are enough questions, particularly with Kilgore come off his own injury, that a first round offensive guard would not totally shock me.