This offseason has flown by as we’re three weeks and a couple of days away from the NFL Draft. The San Francisco 49ers didn’t give their roster a complete makeover like many, including me, thought would happen during free agency.
Because of that, the Niners have a chance to compete for an NFC Championship and make a deep run in the playoffs. Today, we’ll play devil's advocate to that last statement. Each decision the team made isn’t going to work. We’ll make some suggestions as to which move the team made this offseason will come back to bite them in the you know what come the regular season.
Some of the transactions are obvious for most. Others won’t seem so straightforward, but that’s what makes this game so entertaining. Let’s get into it. What is your most unpopular San Francisco 49ers opinion this offseason? Here are three ideas.
Relying on an unproven pass-rusher was a mistake
On Monday, during his press conference, Jason Verrett made a quick mention about Dee Ford returning. When Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch spoke last Monday, Lynch didn’t seem nearly as confident.
This free agency class featured a bunch of talented pass rushers. Yet, the 49ers came away with Samson Ebukam, a player who rushed the passer only 156 times in 16 games last year, as their choice.
On the surface, Ebukam has everything you want. He’s an elite athlete who plays with great energy. Assuming Nick Bosa will be Nick Bosa right away isn’t fair to No. 97 and isn’t realistic. With Ford feeling like a pipedream, Ebukam will be asked to produce right away as an edge rusher, something he’s never done full-time.
Sure, San Francisco could draft a pass rusher on Day 2, but expecting a second or third-round rookie to produce as if he’s an established veteran feels like you’re asking for it. The 49ers are up against the cap and had their hands tied, but omitting signing a proven pass rusher could come back to backfire.
Run it back?
The Niners went 6-10 last year, and aside from Alex Mack and Ebukam, we’re looking at the same roster. The addition of Zach Kerr is a nice depth signing. Mohamed Sanu should help off the field, but outside of experience and depth additions, the roster looks relatively similar.
The risk in running it back with the same roster is the injury history hasn’t gone away. Look at the secondary, where Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley, Jaquiski Tartt, and K’waun Williams are expected to start with Jimmie Ward. Last year, those five missed a combined 26 games! It feels like fools gold to expect anything different moving forward considering each of their history and their age.
The chemistry between the secondary should make for a strong unit on the field, but the worry is not making it through a full season. That’s why I don’t think it’ll be long before we see a cornerback selected. Don’t rule out multiple secondary selections in this upcoming draft.
Swinging for the fences on a rookie QB
Niners Nation's message has been constant all offseason: the 49ers will have a different starting quarterback in 2021. The signs have been there all along, and now a few national media members have been pushing the same narrative:
'Maybe the Jets will keep Sam Darnold'/'Maybe the 49ers will keep Jimmy and start him'— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) April 5, 2021
Let’s say the 49ers move on from Jimmy G. Swinging for the fences on a rookie is a risky proposition.
The expectations for a Justin Fields/Trey Lance/Mac Jones are going to be sky-high as that player was not only the No. 3 overall pick, but the 49ers used two future first-rounders to move up and select the player. The pressure on them to not only perform but for this team to make the playoffs is enormous.
As would be the case with Jimmy, as soon as a rookie makes a mistake — there will be mistakes, and perhaps quite a few — fans will groan and question why the team didn’t stick with the QB that got them to the Super Bowl.
To me, it feels like Kyle Shanahan is betting on himself and his coaching staff as much as he is the talent and availability of this young QB the team covets. Recent history isn’t on the Niners' side of this trade.