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49ers ranked as 11th ‘neediest team’ by Sports Illustrated

Do you agree with the placement?

The San Francisco 49ers have a few primary needs: a starting left guard, a starting cornerback, and replacements for running back Carlos Hyde and defensive lineman Tank Carradine if the two leave in free agency. But they are not overburdened with holes on their roster. Or are they?

Over at SI.com, Andy Benoit ranked the NFL’s “neediest teams” and he has the 49ers as the 11th neediest team this offseason. The Denver Broncos are at No. 12, which surprises me because I would characterize any team without a starting quarterback as far more needier than a team that has one.

But here’s what he had to say about the 49ers:

For Jimmy Garoppolo to be the QB savior that so many pundits imagine, he needs to be protected. Center Daniel Kilgore and right guard Brandon Fusco are free agents (and probably backups on most teams). At left guard, Laken Tomlinson has size and strength, but maybe not the ideal agility for Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone running scheme. Something else to consider: Left tackle Joe Staley is 33. He was strong in pass protection last season, but he wasn’t impermeable. Shanahan often asks his tackles to block one-on-one, sending all five eligible receivers out in routes. That helps his QB throw quickly, which Garoppolo thrived doing in 2017. Because of this, the Niners don’t necessarily have to invest hugely in the O-line—but it wouldn’t hurt.

The 49ers already re-signed Kilgore, and I tend to think they’ll re-sign Fusco. I think he’s overstating Tomlinson’s size and strength and usefulness in other schemes, even if he’s not a fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The point about Joe Staley is noted.

Still, at best, the 49ers are desperate for a left guard, so I don’t really see the “neediness” here too much.

Other weird things about the list: the New York Giants are at No. 17 despite being a three-win team in 2017 and riddled with holes, and the 9-7 Los Angeles Chargers are only at No. 24 on the list, while I think they could be needier than the 49ers.