The San Francisco 49ers appear to have wrapped up free agency with their decision to sign offensive tackle Garry Gilliam. They could still sign some camp bodies before training camp, but for the most part, the free agency run is complete.
The 2017 NFL draft starts in six days, and the 49ers have a chance to supplement their free agency additions with some serious impact players. They have ten draft picks, including the second and 34th overall picks. Whether they move up, down, or stay with their current picks, they will add a mix of players that will impact on day one, and be brought in to develop long term.
On Thursday, ESPN’s Todd McShay broke down draft needs for all 32 teams, offering up five per team. For the 49ers, he listed quarterback, cornerback, outside linebacker, running back, and inside linebacker. Here’s what he had to say about the 49ers:
The 49ers brought in QBs Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley this offseason, but it's clear that neither is the long-term answer. The question is, will coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch spend draft capital on a potential upgrade, or will they take the long view and make a run at Kirk Cousins in free agency next offseason? (Cousins and Shanahan have a connection from their time together in Washington.) The team released CB Tramaine Brock after he was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence. That doesn't leave the 49ers many established options at cornerback if Jimmie Ward makes the switch to safety, as expected. OLB Ahmad Brooks has been a consistent player for San Francisco, missing just six starts in his past six seasons. But he's 33 and entering the final year of his deal.
In reality, the 49ers have needs at virtually every position. If I were to pick one position that is not a big need, it might be safety. If Jimmie Ward moves full-time to free safety, we could see Ward there alongside Eric Reid and Jaquiski Tartt at strong safety. That’s not to say safety is no longer a need, but I could see it dropping down the priority list at least a little bit.
But no edge rusher? Aaron Lynch, Eli Harold, and Tank Carradine, among others, will compete for the Leo role, and will get time on the edge in the nickel, but the 49ers have a lot of questions there. I don’t know if they’ll come away with an edge rusher in the first two days, but I would hope it is high on their priority list.
The 49ers have certain specific needs, but in reality they just need more quality football players. McShay did not include positions like wide receiver and tight end, but even those are not off the table for day two picks. I don’t expect an O.J. Howard or Mike Williams or Corey Davis in the first round, but very little would shock me this coming week.