SANTA CLARA — At first blush, NFL free agency cleaned out the top-caliber 49ers who hit the market.
Nine players committed to becoming ex-Niners by the close of Tuesday’s unofficial business, ahead of today’s start of the signing period.
That steady procession over the first 36 hours of contract talks, however, does not cripple the 49ers’ starting units. Not in the least.
It does serve as a reminder that more depth is needed for a potential 24-game march over the NFC hump and to the Super Bowl.
Even though they scored free agency’s greatest coup in signing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave away from Philadelphia, they’ll need reinforcements, both on the defensive front and at other spots.
They’ll also need new leaders to join their still-strong remaining ensemble.
Among those to leave are former captains at one time or another in their 49ers tenure: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders), Jimmie Ward (Texans), Mike McGlinchey (Broncos) and, possibly, kicker Robbie Gould (unsigned).
The remaining roster should be favored to repeat as NFC West champions, make a third straight NFC Championship Game, and thus contend for the Super Bowl, assuming the quarterback situation goes smoother than last season’s injury carousel. That’s a hefty assumption.
Why did so many of these departing 49ers land elsewhere? Opportunity. Money. Perhaps other motives. But they all took advantage of their time with the 49ers to prove themselves capable of producing winning football.
That must carry over to the next wave of reserves – or starters-in-waiting. The 49ers remain flush with proven stars and young talent, plus 11 picks in next month’s draft, so the reinforcements are coming.
Free agency did not compel the 49ers to rush out and spend on multiple veterans to fill starting roles, other than their defensive line’s interior with a big-ticket item in Hargrave (four years, $84 million).
Where are the holes in the 49ers’ lineup? Right tackle, defensive end, and nickel back. In-house candidates exist at each spot, so there shouldn’t be panic as those ex-49ers cash out of the Silicon Valley banking realm.
The 49ers haven’t gone cheap with their payroll, mind you. They’ve shelled out a Brinks truckload in recent years, with All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors bestowed on those market-defining stars such as Trent Williams, George Kittle and Fred Warner. Nick Bosa is next in line this summer.
Offensively, the biggest question remains at quarterback.
With 2022 rookie sensation Brock Purdy recovering the next six months from last Friday’s elbow repair, the 49ers will turn to Trey Lance as their QB 1 through the offseason program and training camp, but he’ll also be pushed by Sam Darnold, who is just 25 but is on his third NFL life, so to speak, after stints with the woeful rosters of the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers.
Coach Kyle Shanahan gets back most of the offensive crew that produced the NFL’s fifth-most yards and sixth-most points last season, all while hustling with a quarterback version of Three-Card Monte.
The projected Week 1 offensive lineup: Lance, Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and a line that offers (from left to right) Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford and Colton McKivitz.
The projected Week 1 defensive lineup: Bosa, Arik Armstead, Hargrave, Drake Jackson (or another defensive end), Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Sam Womack III (or another nickel back), Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson Sr.
That’s an All-22 capable of dethroning the Eagles in the NFC — and perhaps Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs atop the NFL perch.
It’s the other 31 roster spots that general manager John Lynch and his personnel staff must supplement with starting-caliber prospects. The most important of that bunch could be the kicker, if Robbie Gould bolts in free agency after six seasons and an impeccable playoff record.
Meanwhile, this team must emotionally and logistically overcome the exodus, which was anticipated with each of these departures: Garoppolo (Raiders), McGlinchey (Broncos), Ward (Texans), Samson Ebukam (Colts), Emmanuel Moseley (Lions), Charles Omenihu (Chiefs), Azeez Al-Shaair (Titans), Daniel Brunskill (Titans) and Hassan Ridgeway (Texans).
Those players earned their tickets elsewhere for more playing time, lucrative contracts and a shot to further their careers.
The remaining 49ers still have a great shot at Super Bowl LVIII. They just need a deep enough roster to keep playing by Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.
Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.