On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers will play what will hopefully be an entertaining game against the Los Angeles Rams. It will be the last football featuring this team and it will also be the start of what should be an exciting, but crucial offseason.
A lot of things will need to go right for the 49ers to be the team they want to be in 2017. A lot of decisions will need to be made — who will stay, who will go, who will be drafted, etc. — if the 49ers are to improve. There are so many questions but, truthfully, few answers right now.
All we do know is that Sunday’s game could be the last time we’ll be seeing several notable 49ers players dressed in that uniform. There are some big-name free agents hitting the market, and not a single one of them, outside of Jimmy Garoppolo, is guaranteed to be in San Francisco next season.
Running back Carlos Hyde is the biggest one not named Garoppolo. He’s had a so-so season, but ultimately, his run blocking has been suspect. A pumped up Hyde who might be willing to take less to stick with a 49ers team on the rise could be awesome. Or, he could go elsewhere, where most believe he’ll find success.
Safety Eric Reid would be the next player worth mentioning. Reid was moved to linebacker after both Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt stood out at safety. Then he was moved back to safety after those two went down, with Adrian Colbert taking over the other spot. Now where does Reid fit? The 49ers have four players they consider starting safeties, so Reid might be on his way out.
Center Daniel Kilgore has been with the 49ers for a long time, and he’s set to hit the open market as well. Kilgore has definitely declined, but he’s been a fixture for awhile.
Tank Carradine, Dontae Johnson and Aaron Lynch will also be hitting the open market, and all three of them are likely to be gone.
I feel the worst about Lynch because I think he’s the most talented pass rusher on the team, but he doesn’t seem to be much of a scheme fit. Carradine finally started to look like he belonged this season, but it’s impossible to gauge how the coaching staff sees his future. Then there is Johnson, who has regressed big times in the last few weeks, enough to find himself out of a job next year.
The 49ers wouldn’t necessarily be a hugely worse team if they lost all those players, but what would be a whole lot of change to deal with in a single offseason.