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Golden Nuggets: Is K’Waun Williams the 49ers most important unrestricted free agent?

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Sunday, February 21, 2021

Philadelphia Eagles v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

In today’s Nuggets you’ll read another opinion about Dee Ford, why K’Waun Williams is the most important defensive free agent for the 49ers, why health is the Niners biggest concern, a cornerback who San Francisco should keep an eye on, and more thoughts about what the team should do at No. 12.

SF 49ers: Dee Ford the worst trade in John Lynch’s tenure

Hindsight is 20-20, but it’s fair to think Lynch would want to move on from Ford if he could. The problem, though, is it won’t be that easy.

With the salary cap dropping from nearly $200 million as low as $180 million amid the pandemic, nearly every team across the league will be making tough cap-casualty cuts. Ford, as Maiocco pointed out, would be one of them.

But that injury guarantee creates quite a sticky situation.

And while a good chunk of Lynch’s trades in previous seasons have either panned out well or didn’t hurt the team much at all, the deal for Ford is sure looking like the one move San Francisco would like to undo.

The One Defensive Player the 49ers Will Miss if he Leaves

That player is slot cornerback K’Waun Williams.

Now I know that Jason Verrett was one of the best defensive players for the 49ers last season. He certainly has a better chance of cashing out in free agency over Williams. But Williams is a tenured player. He has been embedded with the 49ers since Kyle Shanahan took over as head coach. Replacing a guy who has locked down the slot corner position for the last four seasons won’t be that easy.

It is more than just how long he has held onto his role with the 49ers. His production and impact on defense has been irreplaceable. No one else currently on the 49ers roster is capable of doing what Williams does, which is practically everything.

Overall health, not just QB, is the 49ers’ biggest concern

There are some who like to label the 49ers’ 2019 campaign as the “perfect season.” However, the injuries alone tell us that it was anything but, and the 49ers were good and lucky enough to manage a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl appearance.

All that said, the 49ers have an injury problem, and Jimmy Garoppolo is not excluded. Even if the 49ers decide to keep Garoppolo as their starting quarterback in 2021, they would be a top contender in the NFC (health withstanding).

So while a lot of the talk is surrounding faith in Jimmy, the team needs to figure out the best way to keep the whole roster in a healthier state and to ensure there is proper depth at all positions, most notably at quarterback.

49ers NFL Draft needs: CB Benjamin St-Juste a perfect fit

There are a few notable reasons why St-Juste should be in consideration for the 49ers NFL Draft plans.

For starters, his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame embodies the long, lanky defensive backs the Niners have historically preferred on the boundary, Sherman being a primary example.

Like Sherman, St-Juste won’t be able to rely on top-end speed. Instead, however, St-Juste has the press ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage while also being able to rely on his larger frame to break up passes at the point of the catch.

Factor in a would-be fit in a zone-style offense, and it’s not hard to see why San Francisco would be interested.

Carson Wentz and Matthew Stafford are off the market. We evaluated latest 49ers quarterback rumors.

A draft pick

The nuclear option! The 49ers have the No. 12 pick, so if they can’t get Watson, they don’t want Darnold and they’d rather cut Garoppolo, they could always draft their next starter. It would be a risky play, and throwing rookies in the fire is a pretty mixed bag. Plus, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields seem to be off the board by the No. 12 spot in most mock drafts, making this the least likely option.