On today’s Gold Diggers podcast, NFL Network researcher and co-host Michelle Magdziuk put together an idea offseason plan for the 49ers. One of the things I love about Michelle is that she’s a Steelers fan, which gives her an outside perspective on the 49ers.
While this list doesn’t include every decision the team will have to make, I thought it was a pretty good framework overall. One thing to note: While not specifically outlined in this article, Michelle did note in the podcast that she thinks Jimmy Garoppolo will be traded in a package that nets a mid-to-late first-round pick in return.
Cut Samson Ebukam
Despite the fact that Ebukam came on strong at the end of the season with at least a half-sack in all but one of his last eight games, he is too expensive to justify bringing back next year. Releasing Ebukam saves $6.5 million, which would be better spent elsewhere (and will be later in this plan).
Re-sign Laken Tomlinson
He is capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level, he knows the system, his teammates love him, and he’s a rock on a team filled with injury risks. Why wouldn’t the 49ers want to bring him back?
Sign Brandon Scherff to play right guard
This one isn’t going to be cheap, but you’ve got to spend some of the savings from the Garoppolo trade somewhere, right? Scherff would be a fantastic upgrade over Daniel Brunskill and would help solidify the offensive line in front of a young quarterback.
Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu doesn’t look like the same player he was when he put up 1400+ yards as a 22-year-old, but with Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel already in place, he won’t need to be. Plus, he still won’t turn 26 until November. Everyone knows Kyle Shanahan needs receivers who are willing to block, and Smith-Schuster fits that bill. A wide receiver room of Deebo, Aiyuk, JuJu, and Jauan Jennings would look pretty damn good next season.
Sign a veteran CB like Casey Hayward, Joe Haden, or Stephen Gilmore
Michelle is assuming that the bigger name corners are going to be re-signed or franchise tagged in this scenario, so she isn’t going to spend big here. The 49ers don’t need Deion Sanders this offseason; they just need a reliable veteran player that isn’t a walking pass interference penalty. Plus, having a veteran player in the DB room with Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir can only help.
Sign Dante Fowler Jr.
Jordan pretty much summed things up nicely here.
Draft DE George Karlaftis of Purdue and safety Jalen Pitre of Baylor
Drafting Karlaftis assumes the 49ers put together a Jimmy Garoppolo package that nets them a first-round pick, which isn’t out of the question at all. While it might be frustrating to some fans to see the team take another defensive lineman in the first round, leaning into something as important as rushing the passer isn’t the worst idea in the world. In Pitre, the 49ers would be getting a playmaking safety who would have no trouble helping out against the run. Considering the team has been trying to give Jaquiski Tartt’s job away since before the season began, a safety in the draft wouldn’t be a surprise at all.
With Scherff and Tomlinson in the fold, the 49ers will have shored up the interior of their offensive line. Smith-Schuster will give the team four bonafide threats at wide receiver, and help put Trey Lance in the best position to succeed in his first year as a starter. Fowler and Karlaftis will reinforce a pass rush that crippled some of the best offenses in the league last year, and the secondary will be infused with both youth and experience.
What do you think? Leave a comment below, and be sure to listen to the whole episode to hear more details about each move.