Jimmy G Jimmy G Jimmy G
After an 0-9 start the 49ers finished off the season as one of the hottest teams in the league due in large part by the aforementioned Jimmy Garappolo. By the time he joined the 49ers they had already lost (to Injured Reserve) their starting Left Guard, starting Right Tackle, starting Wide Receiver, both starting Safeties, starting Defensive End, starting Outside Linebacker, highly touted back up Running back and their back up Tight End. Needless to say, the 49ers led the league in players placed on the injured reserve. Even with all that Jimmy G was able to lead the 49ers to 5 straight wins. Setting up this offseason as a critical part of the 49ers upcoming season and their emergence out of the NFL cellar.
The 49ers Front Office really did a great job last year drafting albeit getting mixed reviews for all the money spent on free agents. This year armed with around 100 million in cap space, I feel like they could really help this team get over the hump and fill some holes through free agency to allow them to draft the Best Player Available in the draft every time they’re on the clock. Here’s a look at the free agents the 49ers should be targeting in Free Agency.
Jimmy Garappolo QB San Francisco 49ers
First and foremost, the 49ers need to come to a contract agreement with their most important pending free agent. In 5 games Jimmy showed why Belichick was so hesitant to trade him to any team in the AFC. They weren’t playing for anything meaningful in the last 5 games of the season but the way Jimmy handled the offense and reinvigorated their depleted defense with energy just proves why he is their franchise QB. When it comes to his contract its not out of the question for his contract to closely mirror that of Andrew Luck’s in the ballpark of 5 years / 120 million.
Weston Richburg C NY Giants
The incumbent starter Daniel Kilgore is a free agent as well and is already 30 years old, I feel like the 49ers will want to go with a proven young starter and in my eyes, there isn’t a better candidate than Weston. Weston a 2nd round draft pick in the 2014 draft came into his own in the 2015 season and Pro Football Focus had his ranked as the #2 center in the league. He’s been hampered by injures this past year, being put on IR by the Giants in November. He has excellent size and quickness that in my opinion would give him a great chance to excel in Kyle’s scheme. As we’ve seen in prior stops Kyle loves to have a smart center that he can rely on i.e. Alex Mack which Kyle coached while at the Browns and the Falcons. I feel like Weston can be that guy for Kyle. Richburg would shore up the center position for years to come and would a great sign that the 49ers first course of action is to protect their franchise QB.
Allen Robinson WR Jacksonville Jaguars
The 49ers are in dire need of a young big bodied WR that would help the 49ers and their Red Zone woes, even with Jimmy Garappolo the 49ers struggled mightily once they entered the red zone. We’ve all seen how unhappy Robinson has been from time to time with Bortles’s inability to get him the football and with the emergence of other WR’s in Jacksonville I could see him looking for greener pastures. Robinson a 2nd round draft pick in the 2014 draft is coming off a major injury (ACL tear) and could be looking for a 1 year prove it deal like Alshon Jeffery did this past year. He really emerged as a big play target his sophomore year in the league when he caught 80 passes for 1400 yards and 14 Touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He would compliment Garcon and Goodwin perfectly and give the 49ers a proven Red Zone target.
Eric Reid S San Francisco 49ers
A former 1st round pick, Eric Reid took on a position change in Saleh’s defense that put him in the best position to succeed and he flourished in his new role. Would love to see him come back and be apart of this improved defense. His leadership would be a great asset to a relatively young defensive core, especially being in his 2nd season in the same defensive scheme. I see the 49ers letting Jimmie Ward go because of his injury history and his inability to stay on the field, leaving Reid, Adrian Colbert and Jaquaski Tartt to anchor the secondary.
Jimmy Graham TE Seattle Seahawks
Former 3rd round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints, he was traded to the Seahawks before the 2015 season and now is free agent this year. Even with the young and talented rookie George Kittle, the 49ers would be smart to get Garappolo as many big bodied targets as possible. Adding Graham would help create many mismatches when lining in a double tight end set. Definitely a player to look at even if it were on a 2yr deal.
Le’Veon Bell RB Pittsburgh Steelers
This Is more of a wish as I don’t see the Steelers letting him go, but if they were to let him walk he would fit perfectly in SF’s zone blocking scheme. He would fit perfectly in line with what Kyle wants out of a running back, great hands, speed, vision. The total package when it comes to the RB position and all his strengths would be on display with the endless amount of play calls that Kyle could dial up with such a versatile back. With that being said even if they don’t get Bell I still see Carlos Hyde on a different roster next season.
Seeing as we won’t know what will happen in free agency until March, let’s go with the idea that the 49ers managed to get the 1st four players mentioned above to either come to SF or to stay in SF. With that being said I’ll mention players that could be drafted to address the remaining holes and depth issues.
Josh Jackson CB Iowa
A 1st round lock, this kid is special. He had 8 interceptions to go along with 18 PBU’s and 48 tackles. He’s 6ft1” and runs the 40 in the mid 4.4’s to low 4.5’s. The 49ers found a gem last year with CB Ahkello Witherspoon in the 3rd round but there is still a huge need at the CB position. They have their slot corner but are in desperate need of another corner. Jackson would fit Saleh’s scheme perfectly.
Denzel Ward CB Ohio State
Another 1st round lock coming out of the recently crowned DBU. One of our talent evaluators here at SSAW that I highly respect Josiah Bledsoe, is very high on him calling him the best CB in the draft. Standing 5ft 10” he’s not as big as Lattimore and Conley but has shown great speed and very sticky coverage. He’s definitely someone the 49ers should be considering as well.
Quenton Nelson G Notre Dame
A guaranteed top 15 pick Quenton Nelson is as good as it gets. 6ft 5” 325 lbs, he’s an absolute monster in run blocking and pass protection. He spent all year completely demoralizing defensive lineman, this kid is so good I believe he starts from day one and could make his way to all-pro as a rookie. He reminds be of the best guard in the league, Marshal Yanda of the Baltimore Ravens.
Wyatt Teller G Virginia Tech
Teller stands 6ft 5” weighing 315lbs and should be drafted anywhere from 3rd – 5th rounds, he isn’t a finished product but has shown tremendous growth in the past 2 years to warrant a look from the 49ers who need depth at the guard position
Sony Michel RB Georgia
I have a feeling that Carlos Hyde has played his final game as a 49er and Sony would be a great replacement. Has great hands, speed and vision to fully take advantage of Kyle’s zone blocking scheme. I’ve been hearing from scouts that they prefer Michel over his teammate Nick Chubb, especially since he’s a better pass catcher and pass blocker. Would be great value in the 2nd or 3rd round should he fall that far. This draft is absolutely loaded at the RB position so It would be smart of the 49ers to find them one.
Akrum Wadley RB Iowa
Very underrated back that I can see having a big year in the right system like Kareem Hunt did this past year. With all the other big names garnering all the attention he quietly averaged 4.4 ypc, ran for 1,100 yards and 10 TD’s behind a makeshift line, while also catching 28 passes for 353 yards and 3 TD’s. Look for him to be drafted in the 3rd or 4th round.
Josey Jewell LB Iowa
Not a big name but man can this kid play. 6ft 2” 230lbs this kid has elite instincts, he’s always around the football and absolutely excels at knifing through the line to find the RB and making the tackle. He has been hampered by injuries. He had 125 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions and 11 passes batted down. He would be a great LB to pair with Rueben Foster.
Harold Landry OLB Boston College
The 49ers are running the same defensive scheme as the Seattle Seahawks and one of the most important positions in the defense is the LEO role or the Outside Linebacker/pass rush specialist like Michael Bennett. Landry is 6ft 3” weighs around 250lbs and can get after the QB, would compliment the rest of the 1st rounders the 49ers have drafted on that Defensive line. The 49ers struggled for a majority of the season creating pressure from the LEO position so he will definitely be an upgrade.
I’ll be revisiting this article after free agency and adjusting the draft needs once we’ve seen what the 49ers have done.