The San Francisco 49ers were plenty active in free agency and the draft, but the NFC West as a whole had a busy offseason. The Seahawks brought in Eddie Lacy and Malik McDowell. The Rams added Andrew Whitworth, Robert Woods, and Gerald Everett. And the Cardinals added Antoine Bethea and Haason Reddick.
ESPN recently took a look at the offseason additions, and each of the four NFC West bloggers offered their choice for the best addition. Three of the four names mentioned were 49ers. Rams reporter Alden Gonzalez was the lone holdout, selecting the Rams new left tackle Andrew Whitworth.
Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss pointed to the Pierre Garçon signing. Weinfuss said he might fly under the radar due to a lack of stability at quarterback, but he instantly becomes one of top receivers in the division.
Garçon, who turns 31 in August, has proved he still has what it takes to perform as a No. 1 receiver, which is what the Niners need. He had 1,041 yards in 2016, which would’ve been second in the NFC West, behind Seattle’s Doug Baldwin and ahead of Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. Garçon belongs in the top three, and, with a good enough season, maybe the top two behind Fitzgerald. He brings not just a star quality to San Francisco, but he can also change a game by himself, which is exactly what the floundering Niners need.
The NFC West receivers are lacking in a lot of ways. Larry Fitzgerald and Doug Baldwin top the list, but it’s mostly question marks after that. Arizona’s No. 2 pass catcher last year was running back David Johnson. Kenny Britt did some things for LA, but there was not much to work with there. Seattle has Jimmy Graham behind Baldwin, but not much else at receiver. And of course, we know allllllll about the 49ers wide receivers last year.
49ers reporter Nick Wagoner pointed to the Reuben Foster selection.
Foster wasn't the earliest pick of that group, but he probably brings the most ability to provide instant impact. With the usual caveat that this is dependent on Foster's shoulder being healthy and holding up for the course of the season, he has all the tools to be a three-down linebacker who makes plenty of splash plays next to NaVorro Bowman in San Francisco's defense. Arizona's Haason Reddick profiles in a similar way and should also be near the top of this conversation.
There is no doubting the upside Foster brings to the table. Long term I don’t think this is quite a “boom or bust” pick, but the shoulder will be an issue to consider for the short term. But if he is good to go and ready for Week 1 as the team is suggesting, he could be as big an impact player as anybody on this roster.
Seahawks reporter Sheil Kapadia thinks draft pick Solomon Thomas will have an immediate impact.
Thomas gives San Francisco a skilled pass-rusher who can make plays in the backfield on a consistent basis. He had eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss last season at Stanford. Considering the favorites in the division -- the Seahawks and Cardinals -- have question marks on their offensive lines, Thomas should have an immediate impact on the division as a rookie.
You don’t spend the No. 3 overall pick on someone you think might not be a huge impact player. He missed most of the offseason workout program due to Stanford’s academic calendar, but has been working with the likes of DeMarcus Ware, Warren Sapp, and Von Miller. He needs to actually execute on his potential, but if he can, the 49ers defensive line takes a huge step forward.