Football Outsiders gives the 49ers a ‘D’ grade for failing to improve its roster during the Draft

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Football Outsiders changed it up from your usual NFL Draft grades. Instead, they issued performance assessments based on how each team did, including whether the roster improved, how the team used their resources, and if needs were met.

Here’s what they about the 49ers. As you might imagine, the selection of a kicker did not go over well:

San Francisco 49ers

Improved Roster: D

Used Resources Well: B-

Met Needs: C-


I don’t understand most of what the 49ers did, and I don’t really care to.

Drafting a kicker was, well, the kicker. Yes, I know Robbie Gould is gone. If the 49ers had first- or second-round picks, I might have overlooked a third-round kicker. But the 49ers needed to get all the bang they could from their three bucks worth of Day 2 draft capital.

Ji’Ayir Brown was a fine choice. Cameron Latu makes some sense as a system fit. Jake Moody should have been depth at receiver or on the interior offensive line, two units the 49ers didn’t bother addressing, even with all of their Day 3 picks.

The 49ers keep succeeding despite weird drafts because of a high home run rate, Kyle Shanahan’s clever game-planning, and a string of inspired defensive coordinators. But it’s frustrating to watch them almost purposely make things harder on themselves.

It’s difficult to disagree with the logic in the last sentence. It’s also evident that the 49ers have and continue to draft for positional need. And that’s based on how they view the roster, not us. After the draft, Kyle Shanahan said there weren’t many holes to fill, which explained the selection of one of the few needs, a kicker, so early.

Last year, the 49ers didn’t select a safety in the draft. But Talanoa Hufanga hit the ground running and wound up being an All-Pro. It’s unfair to say Colton McKivitz will go from a backup to earning that type of recognition, but the 49ers not even flirting with the idea of drafting an offensive tackle says volumes about how they feel about the depth at tackle.

As for wide receiver, Danny Gray, last year’s third round pick, needs to take another step. He’s a speedy option who hardly saw the field last season. Gray can give the Niners offense a vertical threat they still don’t technically have until proven otherwise.

To the 49ers credit, it’s not the easiest task to improve your roster when you’re not picking until No. 99. Linebacker and pass rush was a need. But the combination of Ji’Ayir Brown, Robert Beal Jr., and Dee Winters offer enough of each where if Drake Jackson develops, all of that production will come close to offsetting the losses of Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam.

This is a team that returns all but three starters from an NFC Championship roster that was within one possession of the Philadelphia Eagles before a mindless turnover at the end of the second quarter.

The 49ers marquee addition happened during free agency.

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