The San Francisco 49ers offseason acquisitions are likely just about a wrap, and offseason grades continue along. Last week, we discussed Mike Sando's grade for the 49ers. He gave the team a C, with the four ESPN Insiders dealing more with the addition of Chip Kelly than anything else. Considering the lack of significant free agency additions other than Zane Beadles, that is not surprising.
Pro Football Focus put together their own offseason grades, and they gave the 49ers a C+. They generally liked the draft class, recognizing that even though trading up for Joshua Garnett might have been a reach (a common refrain among draftniks), he is clearly a very talented lineman. Their conclusion about the 49ers offseason hits on the point on which most of us can probably agree. The success of the 49ers 2016 offseason will depend in large part on what Chip Kelly can do with this team, and particularly the offense.
With an obvious question mark at the most crucial position in all of pro sports, the 49ers will hope the hiring of Chip Kelly can elevate the play of either Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has shown the ability and talent to lead a team to the Super Bowl so expect him to start under center in Week 1. The additions of Buckner and fifth-round pick Ronald Blair (No. 103 on PFF’s draft board) should improve the defense. The 49ers were quiet in free agency and put together a solid draft, but this offseason and the results of 2016 will be determined by the impact Chip Kelly has on his offense.
There will remain questions about Jim O'Neil and the defense, and that is certainly an important issue. However, Kelly and this offense are going to be what national folks will focus on early in the offseason. And of course, that is particularly true of Kelly and the quarterback position. The offensive line, wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs are all plenty important, but the focus will be on Blaine Gabbert and/or Colin Kaepernick.