2016 NFL Offseason: San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers (Last Year: 5-11)

2016 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
G Zane Beadles.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/DT DeForest Buckner, G Joshua Garnett, CB Will Redmond, CB Rashard Robinson, DE Ronald Blair, OT John Theus. 49ers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Reggie Bush, WR Anquan Boldin, G Alex Boone.

2016 San Francisco 49ers Offense:
The 49ers are going to start Blaine Gabbert this season. Let that sink in for a second, and take this moment to feel sorry for San Francisco fans. It’s sad that it’s come to this, but trust-fund buffoon Jed York and the paranoid Trent Baalke have finally destroyed the once-great 49er franchise.

Colin Kaepernick is still around, so there is still some hope, but it’s more than likely that Gabbert will get the nod. Kaepernick has regressed because he refuses to study film and improve the mental part of his game. Jim Harbaugh, the ultimate quarterback mastermind, even grew tired of him. Besides, Gabbert’s short-passing accuracy makes him a better fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. Kelly doesn’t understand NFL concepts, so he’s incapable of tailoring an offense around his personnel. He needs players to fit his system, which is an approach that has proven not to work. Sure, the Eagles scored tons of points early on with him, but only because they had talented players like LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. They struggled after all three left.

The thing is, Philadelphia last year, despite the fact that Kelly destroyed its roster, had more offensive talent that San Francisco currently possesses. Gabbert is a cowardly quarterback who dinks and dunks because he’s too scared to take shots downfield. Torrey Smith is the No. 1 receiver despite the fact that he was atrocious last year. Taking the money and running to a decaying franchise, Smith predictably disappointed, and it’s unlikely that he’ll rebound. The other receivers are scrubs named Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and DeAndrew White. It’s unclear if the latter is actually a real person.

It gets better at the other offensive positions, but only by default. Vance McDonald, chosen in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, has been a disappointment as a pro until a couple of decent performances late last year. The 49ers will be hoping that’s a sign of things to come. Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde had the opposite output. He was dominant early, generating 168 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the opener against the Vikings. However, he failed to eclipse the century mark again and gained more than 3.6 yards per carry in just one game until he was knocked out for the year in Week 7 with a stress fracture in his foot. Hyde also missed a couple of games as a rookie, but is reportedly in better shape to accommodate for Kelly’s unnecessary training regimen.

Hyde is one of two talented players on San Francisco’s offense. The other is left tackle Joe Staley. And that’s it. Those are the only two players who would start for more than just a handful of teams. A third would be Anthony Davis, who discussed returning to football after retiring for one season. However, Davis has yet to file his paperwork, and it’s beginning to look like that won’t happen – especially in the wake of his tweet directed toward Baalke. He wrote that it’s impossible to work with Baalke. A normal person would’ve reached out to Davis and asked how things could be rectified. Baalke, however, is too paranoid and egomaniacal to do such a thing. He’d rather be the general manager of a truly horrible team instead.

The 49ers will have a huge hole at right tackle as a result of Davis’ absence. Trent Brown is likely to start there, and it’s going to be awful. Meanwhile, the interior of the offensive line happens to be in even worse shape. Right guard Andrew Tiller is a somewhat decent player. Alex Boone was even better, but he left via free agency. He’ll be replaced by first-round rookie Joshua Garnett, a third-round prospect who was considered a reach. As for the center spot, Daniel Kilgore was one of the worst players at his position last year.

2016 San Francisco 49ers Defense:
The one positive about the Kelly hire is that the 49ers already run a 3-4 defense, so Kelly won’t be changing schemes despite not having the personnel to appropriately do so like he was guilty of in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the team doesn’t have a very good stop unit anyway.

One area where the 49ers should at least be somewhat decent is the defensive line. They spent consecutive first-round choices trying to fix the front, after all. Severely lacking on the line after losing Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, it’s understandable why San Francisco selected Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back drafts. Armstead enjoyed a fairly decent rookie campaign in 2015, and Buckner should be even better. They’ll sandwich nose tackle Ian Williams, an excellent run-stuffer.

It begins falling apart for the 49ers in the linebacking corps. The edge rushers in particular are pedestrian. That’s not really the case for Aaron Lynch, who notched 6.5 sacks in 2015. However, the 49ers don’t have anyone to consistently put heat on opposing quarterbacks from the exterior. Ahmad Brooks and Corey Lemonier are not good football players. Eli Harold, a 2015 third-rounder, has a chance, but didn’t impress as a rookie.

Meanwhile, the inside linebackers will be in worse shape if NaVorro Bowman doesn’t rebound. Bowman, of course, suffered a devastating knee injury that caused him to miss all of 2014. He returned this past season, but wasn’t very effective. In fact, he struggled immensely in coverage. He used to be considered one of the top linebackers in football, but if this past season was any indication, he should only be a two-down linebacker going forward. Perhaps he’ll bounce back, but there’s a chance he may never recover. It would help if Patrick Willis and Chris Borland were still around, but they have retired. Instead, Bowman will be joined by terrible players like Gerald Hodges, Shayne Skov and Michael Wilhoite.

The secondary isn’t in good shape either. Jimmie Ward was the team’s top cornerback in 2015, and he was just an average nickel. The 49ers plan to use him outside this season, so he could be an upgrade over what they had there last year. Ward figures to start across from Tramaine Brock, with Dontae Johnson taking his old spot. Brock is an average No. 2 corner, while Johnson is coming off a disappointing season. Third-round rookie Will Redmond might be able to provide quality depth.

San Francisco has more of a dilemma at safety, where Eric Reid is the only capable player. Reid is a decent player, but his partner, Antoine Bethea, was atrocious this past year. It’s fair to wonder if Bethea, now 32, is going to keep declining. He’s coming off a season-ending chest injury. Jaquiski Tartt, chosen in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, stepped in relief of Bethea, but was even worse.

2016 San Francisco 49ers Schedule and Intangibles:
The 49ers had maintained a dominant homefield advantage from 2009 to 2013, owning a 32-10-1 record in that span. However, they’ve been just 8-8 as hosts the past two years.

San Francisco is especially potent in home night games against East Coast teams, thanks to Circadian rhythms. That gave the 49ers a huge advantage over the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs a few winters ago. However, there won’t be any postseason appearances in the near future.

The 49ers were mixed on special teams last year. They outgained the opposition on punts, but the opposite was true when it came to kickoffs.

Phil Dawson turned 41 this offseason, but that didn’t stop him from drilling 3-of-3 attempts from 50-plus in 2015. He was 24-of-27 overall.

Punter Andy Lee was shipped away for a 2017 seventh-round pick last offseason. Lee finished 15th in net average for the Browns, while Bradley Pinion was 23rd. Another Baalke special.

The 49ers are going to be in a quick hole. Following an easy game against the Rams, they have to battle the Panthers, Seahawks, Cowboys, Cardinals and Bills (road). Things get easier after that, but San Francisco won’t be able to dig out of a likely 1-5 start.

2016 San Francisco 49ers Rookies:
Go here for the 49ers Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2016 San Francisco 49ers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2016 San Francisco 49ers Analysis: If there’s one thing San Francisco fans can be grateful for, it’s that unlike the equally dreadful Rams, they actually own their first-round pick, so they’ll be able to draft a great prospect after they finish 3-13 or 4-12. Unfortunately, the 49ers won’t be able to return to their glory days until Jed York relinquishes all decision-making and Baalke is fired. The two men have completely destroyed a once-great franchise, and they need to be stopped before even more damage is done.

Projection: 3-13 (Tied 3rd in NFC West)

NFL Draft Team Grade: B Grade

Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The 49ers are a complete mess, and nailing every single selection in the 2016 NFL Draft couldn’t even undo what Jed York and Trent Baalke have done. That said, they have to start somewhere, and that somewhere would include a franchise quarterback and some weapons for that player. The offensive line and pass rush also need to be addressed.

2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The 49ers got off to a great start by landing DeForest Buckner. The Oregon product easily could’ve gone No. 3 overall if the Chargers had any clue, so obtaining him with the seventh-overall pick was great. It might have made the fans forget for a second that the trust-fund idiot of an owner and the paranoid general manager who can’t work with anyone talented have both sabotaged their team over the years.

And then, reality set in. The 49ers moved up into the first round to select a third-round guard at No. 28 overall. It was an embarrassing series of events, to say the least. San Francisco almost certainly would’ve been able to obtain Joshua Garnett had it remained at No. 37. Trading like that was reckless and sadly typical of the Trent Baalke regime.

The rest of San Francisco’s haul was a mixed bag. On one hand, the Will Redmond and Fahn Cooper choices were pretty solid. On the other, San Francisco acquired a couple of players (Ronald Blair, Jeff Driskel) who didn’t fit their system, as Chip Kelly can’t quite seem to identify what works for his team. Also, the John Theus choice in the fifth round was horrible.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

7. DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon A Grade
In the two hours in which I changed my third pick to Ronnie Stanley, I wrote that one team that won because of San Diego’s stupidity was the 49ers, because it allowed DeForest Buckner to fall into their laps. Excluding Tunsil, who is now scaring teams off because of some random picture, Buckner was the best player available. He also fills a huge need. The 49ers needed help on the defensive line to replace Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. They now have that with Buckner and his Oregon teammate Arik Armstead.

Speaking of Oregon, it’s nice that Buckner has familiarity with Chip Kelly. I think it always helps when a prospect or free agent goes to a team where he’s comfortable with the scheme and coaching, and that’s the case here.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

28. Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford MILLEN SMOKES KIELBASA ON TWITTER Grade
A Millen grade! The 2016 NFL Draft is complete!

Wow. Taking Joshua Garnett here at No. 28 would’ve been bad enough, but to move into the first round to grab him is borderline insane. I don’t know if Garnett was the only person who accepted an invite to Trent Baalke’s birthday party or not, but that’s no reason to select a third-round prospect at this juncture. Moving up for Myles Jack would’ve made a ton of sense, and quite frankly, it would’ve been one of the best picks in the first round. Getting Garnett here after a trade, on the other hand, is absolutely ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as posting a picture of someone smoking a kielbasa on Twitter.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

68. Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State B Grade
You know what’s funny? Will Redmond would’ve made more sense as a trade-up target than Joshua Garnett at No. 28. Redmond is a skilled corner, but dropped because of an injury. Cornerback wasn’t a huge position of need for San Francisco, but the range is at least right, as Redmond probably would’ve been a second-round pick had he not sustained a torn ACL.

133. Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU C Grade
It’s not horrible to take a major risk at the end of the fourth round, but that’s exactly what Rashard Robinson is. Robinson missed all of 2015 because he was suspended for violating team rules. Robinson also has work-ethic issues, so he desperately needs to mature if he ever wants to make a living playing football.

142. Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian State C- Grade
It’s difficult to understand this selection. I have no problem with Ronald Blair as a player, but his fit in San Francisco’s defense is highly questionable. Blair, who is a poor athlete, seemed like he would be a decent 4-3 left end prospect. He doesn’t translate to the 3-4, however. Chip Kelly doesn’t really understand NFL concepts, so it’s not a surprise to see a sketchy pick like this.

145. John Theus, OT, Georgia D Grade
Many teams didn’t view John Theus as a draftable prospect, so it’s not a surprise to see the 49ers choose him in the fifth round. They must not have been paying attention to the Senior Bowl, where Theus was constantly abused and embarrassed. I don’t know if he’ll be able to hold on to a roster spot for very long.

174. Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss B Grade
This tackle pick is probably better than the one the 49ers made 29 selections earlier when they picked John Theus. Fahn Cooper played right tackle his entire career at Ole Miss until Laremy Tunsil was suspended. Cooper slid into the blind side and did a solid job. Cooper has poor athleticism, but he might be able to compete for the job at right tackle at some point.

207. Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech B- Grade
The 49ers keep drafting decent prospects who don’t appear to be good fits for their schemes. Jeff Driskel projects as a better quarterback than some of the ones taken earlier this weekend – cough, Cody Kessler, sneeze – but he doesn’t have the accuracy that Chip Kelly loves in his signal-callers. Still, it’s hard to hate this pick, given that Blaine Gabbert is likely to start this fall.

211. Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida B Grade
Kelvin Taylor is the son of Jaguar great Fred Taylor. Unfortunately, Kelvin is not nearly the same player his father was. Kelvin was a mediocre runner at Florida, and he tested as one of the worst athletes at the Combine. Still, this was about the right place to draft him as a backup.

213. Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State B Grade
Aaron Burbridge was one of the top receivers in the Big Ten this past season, but wasn’t taken until the sixth round of the draft because teams feared that he didn’t have the ability to separate at the next level. Burbridge, after all, was one of the worst testers at the Combine. Still, he’s worth a shot at this juncture, given his high production level in school.

249. Prince Charles Iworah, CB, Western Kentucky B- Grade
Prince Charles Iworah was just an above-average player for Western Kentucky, but I guess he caught Chip Kelly’s eye when he showed off some stellar athleticism at his Pro Day. He has upside, but he’s very raw.

Season Summary:
The 49ers aren’t anywhere close to the team that was in the NFC Championship just two years ago. Thanks to the utter incompetence of Jed York and Trent Baalke, San Francisco got rid of a top-five coach, lost tons of talented personnel and signed horrible free agents. The post-Jim Harbaugh era is going to be very long and very dreadful.

Offseason Moves:
  • 49ers re-sign DE/DT Tony Jerod-Eddie
  • 49ers sign G Zane Beadles
  • 49ers re-sign K Phil Dawson
  • 49ers sign QB Thad Lewis
  • 49ers re-sign NT Ian Williams
  • 49ers re-sign RB Shaun Draughn
  • 49ers re-sign TE Garrett Celek

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick has regressed because he doesn’t want to study film and improve the mental part of his game. It remains to be seen if the new coach will want to work with Kaepernick. Regardless, the 49ers need to find a new quarterback. One can be obtained at No. 7 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

    2. Center: The 49ers have some major problems on the offensive line, primarily at center. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if they either sign a high-priced free agent or use a second-day pick on help at the position.

    3. Wide Receiver: Trent Baalke wasted money on Torrey Smith, who was a predictable bust. Laquon Treadwell will be in play with the seventh pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

    4. Right Tackle: One of many players who retired last offseason was Anthony Davis, who was a solid right tackle. As a result, the 49ers had major problems at the position in 2015.

    5. Inside Linebacker: The 49ers also lost Patrick Willis and Chris Borland to retirement last spring. They’ll have to find a new player to pair with NaVorro Bowman.

    6. Guard: It doesn’t sound like Alex Boone will be back next year. Boone, a free agent, has expressed frustration with the organization. He’ll want to escape, much like some of those who retired last offseason. Signed Zane Beadles

    7. Edge Rusher: Adding another pass-rusher to go along with Aaron Lynch wouldn’t hurt. The 49ers had the fifth-fewest sacks in the NFL last season.

    8. Nose Tackle: San Francisco didn’t have many talented players last year. Ian Williams happened to be one of the rare ones, but he’ll be an impending free agent in March, so he’ll need to be re-signed. Re-signed Ian Williams

    9. Cornerback: Finding a No. 1 cornerback wouldn’t hurt – the team has a bunch of No. 2-caliber players – but the 49ers have tons of other needs.

    10. Kicker: Phil Dawson missed just one field goal in 2015, but his contract will expire come March. Re-signed Phil Dawson

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Zane Beadles, G, Jaguars. Age: 29.
      Signed with 49ers (3 years)

      The Jaguars signed Zane Beadles to an insane 5-year, $30 million deal two years ago, so it’s no surprise that he’s no longer on the team. Beadles has been OK at times throughout his career, but struggled mightily in 2015. Perhaps he’ll rebound, but there’s no way he’s getting anything close to what Jacksonville paid him two springs ago.

    2. Thad Lewis, QB, Eagles. Age: 28. — Signed with 49ers

    San Francisco 49ers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Alex Boone, G, 49ers. Age: 29.
      Signed with Vikings

      Alex Boone is coming off a down year, but which Niner isn’t? Boone is one of the better interior linemen in the NFL, and he’ll be only 29 in May, so he still has at least four years of high productivity remaining.

    2. Ian Williams, NT, 49ers. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with 49ers (5 years)

      Ian Williams had an extensive injury history heading into 2015, but he remained healthy for once. Williams responded with a great year. He stuffed the run extremely well and also generated a solid pass rush.

    3. Phil Dawson, K, 49ers. Age: 41.
      Re-signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Despite being 40, Phil Dawson missed just one field goal in 2015, and he was a perfect 3-of-3 from 50-plus.

    4. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers. Age: 35.
      Despite the fact that he’ll turn 36 in October, Anquan Boldin is still a viable No. 2 possession receiver. Returning to Baltimore makes a lot of sense.

    5. Garrett Celek, TE, 49ers. Age: 28. — Re-signed with 49ers
    6. Tony Jerod-Eddie (RFA), DE/DT, 49ers. Age: 26. — Re-signed with 49ers
    7. Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers. Age: 28. — Re-signed with 49ers
    8. Michael Wilhoite (RFA), ILB, 49ers. Age: 29.
    9. Reggie Bush, RB, 49ers. Age: 31.
    10. Ray-Ray Armstrong (RFA), OLB, 49ers. Age: 25. — Re-signed with 49ers

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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