Continuing with my off season plans for each team is the owners of the number two pick in the draft the 49ers. A once mighty franchise is now wallowing in the darkness of the NFL. Here I will attempt to plan a way for them to come out of those depths and back into being a contender.
San Francisco 49ers Salary Cap Space: $81 million
Upcoming Free Agents:
1) Gerald Hodges LB
2) Glenn Dorsey DT
3) Jeremy Kerley WR
4) Michael Wilhoite LB
---- Since bringing back Jim Harbaugh is no longer an option the 49ers are now going to have to do this the hard and long way before they return to relevance. They let way too many players go to retirement and else where since Harbaugh's departure to the point now where none of their current free agents really need to be resigned. The only one of note in my opinion is Jeremy Kerley who actually played very well for the 49ers when he was healthy. Their wide receiving corp is so poor that he was their best option and bringing him back on a short cheap deal is not a bad idea since this offensive turn around will not happen over night. According to Spotrac.com, he should only cost about $3 million a year which, is nothing for a team with the second highest salary cap.
After that there really is no player of true worth to bring back or use the franchise tag on. Since Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch were rewarded six year contracts you have to hope they will be given the time to rebuild this whole thing so saving money and building through the draft is a better option than over indulge in free agency.
Possible Off Season Moves:
- Cutting Torrey Smith is a real possability to free up more cap space and do what the Eagles did when Chip Kelly left cut all of the bad moves he made. Instead, for the 49ers they need to rid themselves of all the bad Trent Baalke moves. Cutting him would save about $5 million for the 49ers and let them look to the future.
- Trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo. Obviously making a move for Cousins may be difficult, but Coach Shanahan loves him and was the one who started developing him into the solid quarterback he is today. Cousins is finally starting to sour on the Redskins who are refusing to give him a long term deal. If I were the 49ers I would offer my 2nd overall pick and a couple other picks to take him of their hands in a heartbeat. Otherwise, trying to trade for Garoppolo is not a bad idea if the 49ers are true to their word allowing Lynch and Shanahan their allotted six year contract. That will give them time to develop and grow with him since he is still a young quarterback who had the benefit of playing on a stacked Patriots roster. I would not offer a 2nd overall pick for him maybe, a 2nd rounder this year and a 1st next year when you hope not to have as high of a pick.
- Sign a few solid veteran receivers to help out who ever their quarterback is whether it's Cousins, Garoppolo, Kaepernick, or a rookie who can build up a report with a quality pass catcher.
- Build up the defensive depth finding some quality linebackers and defensive backs to help out. They do not have the luxury like the Browns who can build through the draft with a bunch of draft picks instead, they should try to make some noise in free agency.
- Pierre Garcon WR - Like I said finding some veteran options to help hold the team over as they build back their receiving corp can help this offense be some what competent. Garcon and Shanahan have history together while with the Redskins where Garcon had some of his best seasons. I do not blame him going some where he can win at, but this may be the best for him fit wise in an offense.
- Kenny Britt WR - Another veteran receiver option who can work out well for them. Surprisingly, Britt is only 28 so he still has a lot of years left on his tank to be a productive receiver in this league. Last year was his best statistical season playing with the likes of Case Keenum and Jared Goff so I think he will be fine with whoever is throwing him the ball in San Fran. He should only need to come in at $6 mill annually and I would be okay giving him a decent length contract since he is on the right side of 30.
- Perry Riley LB or Kiko Alonso LB - This is a flip of the coin pick here where they should evaluate the linebacker market for a solid player who can fit their move to a 4-3 defense. I know Navorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks are two very good linebackers, but one cannot stay healthy while the other is aging. Riley and Alonso both fit very well in a 4-3 system and can both come in on relatively cheap contracts.
- Bennie Logan DT - Logan is a very good tackle and may actually cost more than a rebuilding team should pay for, but he fits a real need for the 49ers. They need more talented linemen if they are moving to a 4-3 system and not only that ones who can stop the run since they were one of the worst run stopping teams in the league. Plus, Logan is a young player who still has some upside to him to grow with good coaching.
- Prince Amukamara CB - The 49ers need to upgrade their secondary badly with so many nondescript players and aging veterans Amukamara should be a cheaper option thanks to his shaky one year in Jacksonville, but many think it's because their defense was so bad. However, he did not play bad though and should deserve another long term contract. He is young and can fit as a solid veteran piece to bring this team along.
Possible Draft Options:
- The 49ers have the 2nd overall selection and like I said earlier they should look to maybe move it for either Kirk Cousins or maybe even Jimmy Garoppolo to give the 49ers a young quarterback to grow around. If not they will be forced to take one with their 2nd overall pick and the poor kid will have a lot of expectations on him. If they do pick a quarterback like Mitch Trubisky or someone else they should allow him to sit on the bench for awhile to learn, but if they do rush him to the field they need to give him a few years before a real return starts to show. The 49ers as a franchise need to be calm about it and do not pressure the coaches and front office to win right away. Over time Trubisky or someone else can develop into a franchise quarterback with Shanahan who helped develop Kirk Cousins and tune up Matt Ryan the last few seasons.
- Another real option is trade down from the 2nd pick to gather a bunch more picks since they have so many needs on their roster. This may not be a great quarterback class, but it does have some intriguing options later for them to kick the tires on.
- Take a top receiver or defensive back available with that pick to start bringing in youth. If they do sign a veteran receiver like I mentioned above then secondary is the smarter option since that is the better talent pool in this draft. A guy like Gareon Conley, Quincy Wilson, or Adoree' Jackson have a shot to slip to the second round and jumping on any of them would be great idea. Throughout the rest of the draft finding pieces to build up their new 4-3 defense would be a smart option and maybe finding better interior blockers would be a smart move as well.
My Mock Selection:
1 (2)- Mitch Trubisky QB UNC
2 (34)- John Ross WR Washington
3 (66)- Cameron Sutton CB Tennessee
- In all the 49ers like the Browns should just follow the best player available strategy. However, unlike the Browns they do not have a boatload of picks to take as many risky upside selections or take players at positions they already have a solid starter at. So, they should target some needs like receiver, secondary, and o-line to help this rebuild along. Finding spots to trade down and gather more picks for this year and the future is a smart idea for 49ers to really start moving in a new direction.
Please have patience 49ers ownership and fans if you want your team to finally start turning it around. Look across the bay to the Raiders who stuck it out with GM Reggie McKenzie even when the team was terrible his first few years as he started gathering talents and getting out from under so many bad contracts. The same idea has to take place here and allow them to build a base instead of firing coaches every other year. They should find a quarterback though more so than the Browns in my opinion since they now have a good quarterback coach to help groom whoever they land and hopefully can stay the course for the next 6 years with Shanahan and Lynch to look toward the future. With only 9 draft picks and only having multiple picks in the later rounds they should look to provide some depth with nice cheap upside options through free agency. Overall, they could be in the same spot as last year, but if they find some sort of promise at quarterback they should start turning this whole thing around quicker than I can see the Browns turning it around.