ESPN’s Mike Sando is back with more offseason grades. Sando reached out to executives, coaches, and talent evaluators around the league to get their take on how each team in the NFL did this offseason.
Here’s what they had to say about the San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers’ six largest free-agent commitments of guaranteed money this offseason went to Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, Robbie Gould, Jimmie Ward, Tevin Coleman and Jason Verrett.
Gould has sought a trade. Coleman has drawn rave reviews as one of the NFL’s better offseason value additions, especially given his ties to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. A personnel director called that a brilliant signing. An evaluator wondered how Atlanta could let him get away at that price.
The 49ers’ other four highest-compensated veteran additions carried significant injury histories, as did first-round choice Nick Bosa. Alexander is rehabbing from a torn ACL. Ward recently suffered a broken clavicle. Bosa, highly regarded despite his own injury history, has a hamstring issue.
“The Chiefs give up Dee Ford for a two and then go give Frank Clark $100 million and a first-round pick to Seattle,” an evaluator said. “They could have paid Ford and saved a first-round pick, so you go, ‘Uh oh.’ It is just interesting. Dee Ford is not a surefire elite pass-rusher.”
Another evaluator said he would rather have Justin Houston than Ford among former Chiefs pass-rushers, for medical reasons. A personnel director said signing Alexander, acquiring Ford and drafting Bosa amounted to expensive do-overs for missing on Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas early in the 2017 draft.
“I think they were feeling really good about things and really positive, but I think as a young GM, you learn how hard it is, too,” an exec said of 49ers GM John Lynch. “Even when it looks good, it is not always good.”
Coleman has a $3.6 million cap number for 2019. If Coleman can produce as he did with the Falcons the last two years it will be a steal for the Niners.
The injury critique is fair. John Lynch took a few gambles this offseason. Bosa’s hamstring injury seemed to be more precautionary than anything. Jimmie Ward suffering a broken collarbone in OTAs had to sting the front office. The jury is still out on Verrett and Alexander. The 49ers seem to be counting on both, despite the two coming off season-ending injuries.
A letter “C” grade is fair as there are as many questions as answers. History had shown that rookie receivers tend to struggle out of the gate. What Dante Pettis was able to do last year when healthy was an anomaly. We’ll see if Deebo Samuel can follow in Pettis’ footsteps.
The production of Ford and Bosa will judge this offseason.