The first phase of NFL free agency is complete, and it was a busy week for the San Francisco 49ers. General manager John Lynch re-signed key free agents Trent Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley, and Jaquiski Tartt.
San Francisco also bolstered the offensive line by signing veteran center Alex Mack and brought in pass-rusher Samson Ebukam.
All of the moves Lynch and co. have made allow the Niners to take the best player available with their first-round draft pick, which is currently slated to be No. 12. The 49ers don’t have any glaring needs on their roster, which opens things up for Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Here is a look at San Francisco’s updated depth chart after the first week of NFL free agency.
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh Rosen, Josh Johnson.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Niners either sign a veteran QB in free agency or select one at the draft. Lynch made it no secret that the 49ers’ brass would look to bring in another QB to backup presumptive 2021 starter Garoppolo. We could also see the 49ers go with a quarterback with the 2021 NFL Draft.
Running back: Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty, Austin Walter.
Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk, Josh Hokit.
Mostert dealt with multiple injuries last season, which gave Wilson the opportunity to breakthrough with the coaching staff. Both backs are great fits in Shanahan’s offense and will likely be close to a 50/50 split in carries next season.
Juszczyk is a versatile back that is mainly used as a blocker and pass-catcher out of the backfield. He’s been deemed as an offensive weapon and is a valuable piece in the Niners’ scheme.
San Francisco moved on from veterans Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon this offseason, and both remain available in free agency. But the 49ers could look to bring in some depth given what happened with injuries last season.
Don’t rule out the Niners adding a speedy running back late in the draft or an undrafted free agent to compete for their RB3 position.
Wide receiver: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Richie James, Travis Benjamin, Jalen Hurd, Trent Sherfield, Jordan Matthews, River Cracraft, Jauan Jennings, Kevin White, Austin Proehl, Matt Cole.
With Kendrick Bourne leaving for the New England Patriots, San Francisco still has a hole to fill at the No. 3 wide receiver. James is the only player who was a regular last season, so I went with him at No. 3 for the time being.
Benjamin opted out of playing last season due to COVID-19 concerns. Hurd is going to be an interesting case. He has missed the last two seasons due to injury, but he has looked great during training camp, by all accounts.
If Hurd can stay in the lineup, it will be a big boost to the 49ers’ receiving corps. Sherfield will be on the roster as a special teams ace and would get some offensive snaps in case of injury.
There are still some cheaper options available in free agency, including Willie Snead, Danny Amendola, T.Y. Hilton, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
This is also another strong wide receiver class in the NFL draft. There’s a strong chance the team fills their WR3 position on Day 2 of the draft.
Tight end: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, Daniel Helm.
The Niners signed veteran Jordan Reed just before the 2020 campaign, but he rarely played with Kittle. Dwelley continues to make strides and will likely be on the opening day roster, while Woerner will look to take another step in his development.
San Francisco has invested in Day 3 tight ends during the past couple of drafts. Let’s hope they draft a more athletic tight end if they elect to go the same route this time around.
Offensive line (projected starters):
Left tackle - Trent Williams
Left guard - Laken Tomlinson
Center - Alex Mack
Right guard - Daniel Brunskill
Right tackle - Mike McGlinchey
Backups: Shon Coleman, Justin Skule, Colton McKivitz, Isiah Williams, Corbin Kaufusi, Dakoda Shepley, Jake Brendel.
Re-signing Williams, who is one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL, was a big-win for Lynch. Tomlinson remains a quality starter, while Mack gives the 49ers some much-needed stability in the middle. Without the injured Weston Richburg and Ben Garland, Brunskill was shifted to center, which took away from his development as the right guard. Hroniss Grasu struggled in throughout his nine games, and likely won’t be brought back. Garland remains on the market and would be a great depth signing at the right price.
McGlinchey is going into his rookie deal's final year and needs to be better than he was in 2020, especially his pass-blocking. He was bullied too often and needed to work on his strength this offseason.
The 49ers could look at a prospect like Rashawn Slater with the 12th pick, who would give San Francisco some more depth and a potential replacement for McGlinchey if he doesn’t re-sign. Slater is athletic enough to play multiple positions and could take over the starting right guard role, which would leave Brunskill as a backup who could shift around the line.
Edge: Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam, Jordan Willis, Alex Barrett.
Defensive end: Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, Daeshon Hall.
Defensive tackle: Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Jones, Zach Kerr Kevin Givens, Kentavius Street, Darrion Daniels, Josiah Coatney.
Bosa’s return makes everyone better. The pass-rushing demon is a game-changer, and the Niners sorely missed his presence in 2020. Ebukam gives San Francisco another option to play across from Bosa, who will be used on situational downs. Ford can’t be relied upon at this point, but there is some optimism surrounding his health.
David Lombardi and Matt Barrows of The Athletic did a joint piece on Ford’s situation and shared some good news.
Sources told The Athletic that Ford has been rehabilitating at the 49ers facility, has resumed running and is confident about making a full recovery.
This coincides with news that the 49ers saved about $11.2 million in 2021 salary-cap space while agreeing to the new contract with Ford, which is worth up to about $24 million and primarily based on incentives.
Given recent history, it’s tough to project that Ford will be fully healthy for a 17-game season, but anything the Niners can get out of him at this point will be considered a huge bonus.
Armstead saw his production dip without Bosa and DeForest Buckner as defenses paid extra attention to him. Kinlaw should improve after a full offseason while Jones is another quality starter. Givens had some flashes last season, especially against the run, and could see an increase in snaps in 2021.
Linebacker: Fred Warner (Mike), Dre Greenlaw (Will), Azeez Al-Shaair (Sam), Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.
Pro Football Focus graded Warner as the best linebacker in the NFL last season. His looming extension will be expensive, but he solidifies the 49ers’ defense. Greenlaw was a steal as a fifth-round pick and will once again be a staple in the middle of the defense. Al-Shaair saw an increase in playing time after Kwon Alexander was traded to the New Orleans Saints. He was decent against the run in 2020 but needed to work on his coverage skills this offseason. San Francisco will likely add another linebacker with one of its nine draft picks.
Cornerback: Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley, Dontae Johnson, Tim Harris, Ken Webster, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Mark Fields, Adonis Alexander.
The cornerback position is where we have seen the most turnover for the 49ers. All-Pro Richard Sherman will likely find a new home in a free agency, and it remains to be seen what happens with slot corner K’Waun Williams. Ahkello Witherspoon signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
Verrett and Mosely are projected to start on the outside, but the Niners will need to find a replacement for Williams if he signs with another team. San Francisco could also look at a corner with the 12th selection. Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn are considered the top-three prospects at the position. If the 49ers do select one of them, they should have a long-term solution at cornerback.
Safety: Jimmie Ward (free safety), Jaquiski Tartt (strong safety), Tavarius Moore, Marcell Harris, Tavon Wilson, Jared Mayden, Chris Edwards, Kai Nacua, Obi Melifonwu.
Lynch solidified the position by re-signing Tartt and bringing in Wilson in free agency. Ward was graded as the 15th-best safety in the league last season by PFF and will be back for his eighth season with the team.
Tartt’s injury history isn’t pretty. He’s only appeared in 28 games over the last four seasons but does give San Francisco some continuity at the position. Moore gained some valuable experience filling in for Tartt last season and gives the Niners some depth behind the starters.
Special teams: Robbie Gould (kicker), Mitchell Wishnowky (punter), Taybor Pepper (long-snapper).
The 49ers are set across the board here.
Looking at the list above, which positions do you think San Francisco needs to address this offseason?