Nearly half of the 49ers roster is scheduled for free agency this offseason. There will be a lot of moves made on both sides of the ball. Trent Williams and Jason Verrett feel like the two unrestricted free agents that meant the most to San Francisco last season. Bring those two back, make a couple of under the radar signings, and perhaps a splash move or two, and get out of the basement of the NFC West.
“We were only last place due to injuries.” I’m not arguing that, but assuming health is dangerous when discussing the Niners. Injuries will play a significant factor in the decisions the team makes this offseason. The 49ers will have to make some gambles and take some risks on players, both in-house and throughout the offseason. Here is a look at one player in the NFC West San Francisco should be interested in.
Cardinals - Edge rusher Haason Reddick
Reddick was a part of our second offseason plan. The trade for Dee Ford hasn’t panned out. Who knows how long it would take for Nick Bosa to regain his rookie season form. For those reasons, it makes sense for the 49ers to invest in an edge rusher this offseason.
If you’re leery about signing Reddick since he was a “one-year wonder,” that’s fair. He was drafted as an edge rusher out of college, and Arizona didn’t play Reddick as a true pass rusher until this past season. Why? Out of necessity. Injuries forced Arizona’s hand. All Reddick did was have 12.5 sacks and 21 QB hits.
Reddick had a higher hurry, hit, knockdown, and pressure percentage in 2020 than Ford did in 2019 on a significantly better defensive line. San Francisco will have to open their checkbook, but Reddick’s first season as an edge rusher is worth the risk.
Rams - CB Darious Williams
Williams is a restricted free agent, so Los Angeles could either workout a deal will Williams or place a tender on him. If the Rams are foolish enough to place a second-round tender on Williams, the 49ers should pounce on the opportunity to sign the 27-year-old cornerback.
Williams played in the slot and on the perimeter this past season for the Rams. He was targeted 61 times, gave up one touchdown, broke up nine passes, and intercepted four throws. Sports Info Solutions had Williams for two dropped interceptions and he only allowed a 45.9% completition percentage.
Independent of what the Niners do with Jason Verrett or K’Waun Williams, Darious should be on the team’s radar. He is as good as those numbers suggest and that is also independent of having Jalen Ramsey on the other side.
To give you an idea of how well Williams played this past season, he was just behind Verrett in SIS’s “total points saved” metric, with 40 total points saved compared to 54 for Verrett. Williams also played in all 16 games this past season. Williams is an upgrade over Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon. You also steal a starter from the Rams.
Seahawks - DT Poona Ford
Ford is another restricted free agent that the 49ers should keep an eye on, especially since D.J. Jones is an unrestricted free agent and the depth at defensive tackle is slim.
With Ford, the Niners get an athletic interior DT who wins with quickness. That would allow DeMeco Ryans to continue what Robert Saleh did by running more games upfront. Foord is also plenty strong and does a great job of winning his gap. Remember earlier in the season against Seattle when the 49ers ran that head-scratching screen where Jimmy Garoppolo threw it across the field to Trent Taylor? Ford chased the play down and tackles Taylor. That’s the type of effort you’re getting with Ford.
If Seattle can’t work out a long-term deal, Ford would be somebody who is an immediate upgrade who again comes without an immediate injury history as he played and started in all 16 games during 2020. Ford gives you plenty of pass rush as evidenced by his 13 QB hits this past season.