The San Francisco 49ers took a few risks this offseason with some of the players they added. Linebacker next to Fred Warner was a position of need, and they went out and signed a player that likely won’t be ready for the season-opener. The team also seems to be depending on a player that has all the talent in the world but hasn’t played a full season since 2014.
The 49ers added plenty of talent this offseason, though. Here are the four best moves John Lynch made this offseason.
Addressing the offensive line from a value standpoint
I’m in the camp that you don’t have to spend big on the interior offensive line. I get wanting to protect your quarterback on edge. Selecting guys like Joe Staley on Mike McGlinchey early makes sense. I love that Lynch rewarded Mike Person for his toughness with a three-year contract. The deal is only worth $8.25 million, and is team-friendly, like usual. Is the likelihood of Person regressing to journeymen status high? Sure. The contract felt more like a culture-building deal.
Aside from that, the 49ers scoured the waiver wire for offensive lineman that has played all over the line. Since January, the team has signed seven offensive linemen, not counting Person. In Kyle Shanahan’s system, the emphasis isn’t on the interior guys, as he runs a lot of stretch zone and play-action. You need competent guys. The team should be able to find at least one capable body that fits what they want to do.
Adding athleticism to the roster
One area that stood out when watching the 49ers was the lack of athleticism on both sides of the ball last year. There are plenty of athletic players. There weren’t players that are big-time athletes. That’s why taking chances on a Kwon Alexander, or a Jason Verrett makes sense.
The trade for Dee Ford. The two wide receivers drafted, even Tim Harris in the sixth-round. The Niners needed to inject some athleticism on the roster, and they did. You’d see defenders in space last year, and there wasn’t much confidence that they’d be able to finish the play. Flip that around to the other side of the ball, and outside of maybe three players, I didn’t see a skill player that could consistently get a big chunk. Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, and getting Jerick McKinnon back should change that.
Covering your bases
Speaking of Coleman, one thing that the team did, save the safety position, is cover their bases in the event of an injury. At safety, a guy like D.J. Reed Jr. or Antone Exum can fill in at either spot.
Jordan Matthews is a prime example here. He can play early if one of the younger guys isn’t ready to take the next step. The Niners added some lesser-known names at defensive tackle and linebacker as well. The addition of Coleman could help in several ways, too. The depth chart heading into this year looks a lot more promising than it did one year ago.
Addressing your biggest need
Believe it or not, teams go into the offseason with a significant need and enter the season with the same need still a question mark. A couple of weeks ago, Richard Sherman said “we needed guys that could hit the quarterback. That was not the case with Lynch. The 49ers couldn’t get after the quarterback or generate turnovers. Lucky for them, they had the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Nick Bosa is going to be able to solve both of those issues. It wouldn’t be fair to pin that all on a rookie.
The trade for Dee Ford was criticized by many. In the Niners position, this is a gamble you take every time. A future second-round pick, and a contract that doesn’t handicap your team for several years. For a player that is coming off a career year and will remain in an environment where he’s not asked to do it all? That was a no-brainer.