We are nine days away from free agency, and that means the San Francisco 49ers will once again be on the market looking for players to improve their franchise. Adding an edge rusher will be the priority if the Niners have to franchise tag then trade Arik Armstead. Adding some help could happen even if that doesn’t happen.
The 49ers have injury issues and unrestricted free agents behind Armstead, Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford. That’s if you count on Ford being healthy for the full 2020 season. Behind those three, it’s Ronald Blair and Damontre Moore, both who are not under contract, as well as Anthony Zettel, who is also a free agent. Kentavius Street and Solomon Thomas haven’t shown anything where you can rely on them to play heavy snaps. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows said there is a “good chance” that both Taylor and Blair end up on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season:
Street dealt with knee injuries that landed him on injured reserve twice during the 2019 season. I don’t think the 49ers can count on him. Blair suffered an ACL tear in November, while Jullian Taylor had an ACL tear in December. There seems to be a good chance one or both begin the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Barrows was asking a question answering a question with a question if he feels like the combination of Street and Thomas could fill the role of Armstead. Outside of Bosa, there isn’t anyone on the roster that can offer you the versatility that Armstead brings—which would be the chief reason Armstead comes back on a long-term deal.
As for Taylor and Blair’s injuries, it’ll be interesting to see how Blair’s ACL is factored into his contract moving forward, or if the front office wants to bring him back. Blair is the ideal backup. There isn’t a big drop off when he comes in the game. If anything, this will be an advantage for the Niners. If you see the team bring in edge rushers, it’s because they’re ready to move on from Blair.