As the first wave of free agency officially recedes into the background, the famed “second wave” is upon us. This, according to conventional wisdom, is the time when the smart teams add good players to their roster without paying astronomical prices.
To that end, Javier Vega suggested two names he’d like to see the 49ers add in today’s Oh, Hey There! podcast.
“He has an injury history, nothing too crazy, but he’s been productive, and Philadelphia doesn’t look like they’re going to bring him back. Could that be a guy you get for $5.5 million a year? Maybe. You assign him opposite of Nick Bosa. Now you have a dynamic pass-rushing duo.”
Derek Barnett notched 147 total tackles in five seasons with the Eagles, 21.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in 64 regular-season games. Unfortunately, he also has just 4.5 sacks in his last 25 games and has been known to commit a dumb penalty in his day. At this point in free agency, however, you aren’t getting someone without some warts. The key is, can you find a role for that person that accentuates their strengths more often than not?
“Look, I like Daniel Brunskill. Awesome human, but he’s not a very good right guard. Upgrade the position. Go spend on a guy who was formerly taken in the second round who just didn’t fit the scheme in New York. Kind of like what you did with Laken Tomlinson...Will Hernandez doesn’t have any injury concerns, just like Laken Tomlinson. He fits your profile. He’s actually 25 pounds lighter than Laken. He moves better than Laken. He can play both left and right guard. Plug him right in at right guard next to Mike McGlinchey if McGlinchey’s going to be here.”
Hernandez has started 56 out of a possible 62 games in his career, and the six games he missed in 2020 were due to COVID. That kind of durability is hard to come by anywhere in the NFL, but especially for the 49ers.
Between Tomlinson’s departure and the play of Daniel Brunskill, the argument could be made that the 49ers need to replace not one but two starting guards. They certainly could do a lot worse than Will Hernandez.
One of the hallmarks of a great coaching staff is taking players that may not have reached their full potential in one place and squeezing all the juice from the orange when they’re in your building. The 49ers did that with Laken Tomlinson, Arden Key, and others. At this point in free agency, they may need to rely on that strength yet again.