The 49ers used free agency to their advantage, signing Javon Hargrave and Isaiah Oliver to fill two of their bigger needs early in free agency. However, with the free agency frenzy slowing down, the 49ers still have some other holes to address. At this point in the offseason, teams will turn their attention to the draft to fill out their remaining needs, while using free agency to fill the final gaps.
With the 49ers fulfilling roster spots at pass rusher and nickel back, what are their biggest needs as the draft approaches?
With Colton McKivitz and Jaylon Moore as the likeliest candidates to replace Mike McGlinchey, the 49ers must refill their depth at tackle. McKivitz and Moore played behind McGlinchey and Trent Williams as the 49ers carried the four tackles on the roster for the entirety of the 2022 season.
Like the Jon Feliciano signing replaces the swing role Daniel Brunskill gave to the interior of the offensive line, the 49ers need to replace the gap in the depth chart left by McKivitz or Moore taking the starting role. The 49ers in recent years have addressed their offensive line depth through the draft – McKivitz, Moore, and Aaron Banks to name a few – so it should be expected the 49ers are continuing the trend this year.
The good news is the starters are set at safety. Tashaun Gipson is returning to pair with Talanoa Hufanga in the 49ers’ secondary. Behind the two starters, the 49ers currently don’t have much. George Odum is the only depth the 49ers have at safety under contract with NFL experience, with Jimmie Ward and Tarvarius Moore leaving in free agency.
It would be best for the 49ers to invest one of their three third-round picks at safety. Gipson contemplated retirement earlier in the offseason before signing his one-year deal. Using either pick 99, 101, or 102 at safety would address not only the depth this season but the potential need in the future. Maybe the 49ers catch a break and either Jammie Robinson or Sydney Brown fall to the end of the third round.
Javon Hargrave and Clelin Ferrell will headline the new acquisitions on the defensive line, with Austin Bryant adding depth, but the 49ers are bound to add more. The 49ers could use another starting-caliber pass rusher across from Nick Bosa, with some viable options still available in free agency. Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, and Justin Houston could be worth considering if the 49ers are still scouring free agency but cap space would have to be created.
Something to note: the 49ers have selected eight defensive linemen and have taken at least one in five of its six drafts under John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan.
Robbie Gould’s departure left the 49ers needing a kicker for the first time since signing Gould back in 2017. Gould was consistent for the 49ers, making 87.5 percent of his field goals while not missing any postseason kicks in nine playoff games.
Randy Bullock and Ryan Succop could be options if the 49ers go with a veteran, as they did in 2017. Succop made 31 field goals on 38 attempts in 2022, both his most makes and attempts in a season since 2017. Bullock made a higher percentage of his kicks, making 17 of his 20 tries last season with the Titans.
The 49ers still have their options to replace Gould. Determining whether former Panthers' kicker Zane Gonzalez will be gifted the starting kicker spot could lead you down quite the rabbit hole. Gonzalez didn’t play in 2022, and had mild success during his career outside of his 2021 season.
The draft also includes players like Jake Moody and Andre Szmyt if the 49ers are looking to go with a younger and cheaper solution to their need at kicker.