Here comes my next season predictions and ramblings for the San Francisco 49ers. As always, I am not out here trying to look like an NFL expert or insider. Instead, I am here just airing my opinions and thoughts on teams heading into the season. Since it is fun to try to look into the future and find out you were right, but also to create some nice discussion among other fans. So, instead of bashing me on how dumb I am you can instead join in and add your own constructive thoughts. So, without further adieu here we go!
The 49ers I can predict will have a very tough season to swallow this year as they continue to build for the future. I should know as a Bears fan having Bryan Hoyer or Matt Barkley at quarterback is definitely not a recipe for success. To go along with their transitioning defense and finding where pieces go may take a bit after they drafted a bunch of defensive lineman the past few seasons to fit a 3-4 front. I can say this however, I was one of many who scoffed at the idea of hiring John Lynch as a rookie GM, but he has shown good patience and negotiations skills being so new to the job. They did a nice job to find some stop gap pieces at the receiver position to make their offense at least a bit more competitive next season. Plus, with coach Kyle Shanahan at the helm I cannot see this offense being any worst than it has been the past few years. You have to remember this is the 49ers we are talking about and they have generally been one of the better run franchise in the NFL for the better part of the league's history. So, one has to think they will not be dwelling at the bottom for too long as they figure it out.
I can see this club floundering to a 2-14 record this season and even in my opinion that is a bit too generous to give them. Their offense to me will not be able to put up the amount of points each week consistently to be competitive. The defense should be a bit ahead of the offense thanks to Arik Armstead, and DeForest Buckner continuing to develop in year three and year two respectively. Plus, the additions of Solomon Thomas and even Reuben Foster should give them a solid young core up front to build around. That secondary is what bothers me the most and they should have done a lot more in my opinion in this secondary heavy draft to solve that issue. However, this team had many issues and their best player available approach was a smart one for a team at the bottom and in need of talent across the board.
In the end, much like the Browns, this team needs to just stick with the plan and not panic. If they do allow Lynch and Shanahan to live out their 6 year contracts I can see this team being a dominant one for a long time. The key in this league is patience to be successful to go along with continuity at the top. Just look at the Raiders who stuck with Reggie McKenzie as he turned the team around and now they are on the cusp of being a Super Bowl contender. I know fans have their hopes up that next year Kirk Cousins will reunite with his former offensive coordinator, but I cannot see that happening. The Redskins can offer him the most money if they keep franchise tagging him and if you ask me I would like to think Lynch and company want their own guy to build around.
1 (3) - Solomon Thomas DE - Everyone likes to think Lynch was a genius for trading down or "tricking" the Bears to move up a spot, but he had no idea who they were going to draft. Plus, considering how much the Bills and Browns got for the Chiefs and Texans moving up they really did not make out with a huge haul. Anyways, Thomas was the right pick for them as he was considered the number two prospect on many teams boards. I do wonder where he fits in on their scheme now since he would have been perfect for as an edge rusher in a 3-4 front, but he does have experience and good tape being a traditional pass rusher. He does not seem to me though to have a huge ceiling due to his limited athleticism and electric speed. His strength and technique will be his calling cards. In the end, I think he will turn out to be a nice player, just not the great player a lot of people expect out of a top draft pick.
1 (31) - Reuben Foster LB - I was not a huge fan of them trading away picks to grab a player with a ton of baggage. Albeit a talented player, but he has too much problems for me to use picks to move up and grab. Especially two solid picks in the 2nd round where they could have nabbed two cheaper starters. I also believe they could have gotten him at the top of the 2nd round if they had stayed there and would have been able to move off of him if he continued to be a bonehead earlier in his career than they can now since he has a first rounder contract. I do believe if he stays healthy and clean off the field he has the upside of being a combo of Dont'a Hightower and C.J. Mosley. Both of those are big "ifs" and could end up back firing in Lynch's ability to evaluate players since he considered him to be the top prospect in the draft. I am also one of those people who worries about Alabama players being maxed out and burnt out by the time they reach the NFL so that might be why I am pessimistic about Foster.
3 (2) - Ahkello Witherspoon CB - This was one of my favorite picks made by the 49ers in the draft. Not only did they grab a starting caliber corner, but one with the upside to be a great corner thanks to his size and speed. They also got him later than other top corners in the 3rd round and can turn out to be a nice gem here. There will be worries about his inconsistent technique and ability to turn and run with speedier receivers. That's something he can work out in the pros and thanks to this team's lack of talent at the position I see him getting a lot of experience as a rookie.
3 (40) - C.J. Beathard QB - This to me is a waste of a pick. Beathard was not considered a starting quarterback at all during this season or leading up to the draft and they picked him before players with better potential. At best he will be a career back up in my opinion with his limited size and arm strength.
4 (15) - Joe Williams RB - This was my second favorite pick made by the 49ers. To me Carlos Hyde is a shot running back who got run into the ground by Urban Meyer and his first few seasons at Ohio St as he recruited his guys. Williams who did quit the sport for a year came back this season with a vengeance and played great down the stretch. He may not be as big as Hyde, but he has better movement and versatility. Plus, his mileage is lower thanks to his little hiatus which will give him a few more good years in the NFL. It would surprise me if he was not the top rusher for this team by year's end.
5 (2) - George Kittle TE - John Lynch must have been in love with Iowa during his visit or something to nab the quarterback and his go to weapon. This pick though is not as bad to me as Beathard was in the end. At least, Kittle can contribute on special teams during his rookie season as he adjusts to NFL speed. I do think he has nice upside with decent hands and athleticism, but he is buried on the depth chart behind Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek so it will be interesting to see where he finds his snaps on offense. Though word on the street say he is having a great spring, but his size and speed look great in shorts.
6 (14) - Trent Taylor WR - Taylor was not considered one of the top receivers in this draft, but he was looked at as one with nice upside. He has great speed and will contribute right away as a kick returner. Down the line he can be a nice slot option and maybe a below average number two receiver. I can see him being able to out play Marquise Goodwin and Jeremy Kerley currently in front of him on the depth chart.
6 (14) - D.J. Jones DT - Nothing to see here other than Jones being a good fit for the 49ers new front. He will be a nice nose tackle and rotational piece up front with limited upside.
6 (18) - Pita Taumoepenu OLB - Another option to be a rotational pass rushing piece on this transitioning defense. He has ability to play on special teams and has versatility to move all over the front.
7 (11) - Adrian Colbert DB - Special team and practice squad body. They could have done better picking say a Malachi Dupre or others with higher upside, but being a 7th round pick there's not much to complain about.
2018 Off Season:
I bet it will be another slightly active off season by the 49ers as they continue to acquire pieces for the future. They should not dole out cash on big free agents yet and should continue to make deals like they have with Pierre Garcon and others. Like I mentioned earlier I doubt Cousins leaves Washington so they will still need to find a quarterback. They most likely will land a top one in the draft with their high draft choice. I would like to see them make more moves to land more starting caliber defensive backs especially at corner as stop gaps until they find their studs through the draft.
My 2018 Mock Draft Selections:
1 (2) - Josh Allen QB Wyoming
2 (1) - Parris Campbell WR Ohio St
2 (18) - Iman Marshall CB USC