The folks over at Pro Football Focus recently posted a piece on the biggest offseason questions for every team, and we’re going to take a look at what they said about the San Francisco 49ers, as well as the rest of the teams in the NFC West.
First, though, I’d say the biggest 49ers question is whether or not they can find a No. 1 cornerback. Everyone is talking about the edge, and I agree that it’s a need, but after John Lynch’s comments about Eli Harold at the NFL Combine, I’m convinced that the team doesn’t consider a pass-rusher its biggest need. Dontae Johnson is a huge problem, and the 49ers need an answer, as far as I’m concerned.
But over at PFF, they are focusing on the edge. The question is: “Can the 49ers find edge rush to go with their 3-tech interior players?” They noted that they have too many interior players and Solomon Thomas was a poor fit on the outside, generating just 30 total pressures from 401 pass-rushing snaps. I agree that Thomas struggled and is severely lacking in effective pass-rushing moves.
So what’s the solution?
The solution: Even Jimmy Garoppolo’s winning streak could only drag the 49ers to a 6-10 record on the season, which will give them either the ninth or 10th overall pick (coin flip pending). That could give them the complete group of edge rushers to choose from in this draft. They could go with Bradley Chubb in Round 1, or if he really slips in the draft due to his various red flags, there may be no better talent than LSU’s Arden Key. Key had 138 total pressures and 62 defensive stops over his past three seasons and 1,554 snaps, which is elite production.
Of course, we all know now that the 49ers won the coin toss (thanks to excellent preparation from John Lynch, of course). As for Key, I just ... really think I’ve had my fill of off-field concerns, at least for a year or two. I respect the belief that people need second chances and what not, but it just wouldn’t be a good look right now.
For the Arizona Cardinals, the question is obvious: who the heck is going to be their quarterback? doubt they’ll win the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes myself. For the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, the questions revolve around the offensive line. The Rams have improved, and need to continue to improve. The Seahawks have had miss after miss after miss.