2018 NFL Offseason: San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers (Last Year: 6-10)

2018 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Jerick McKinnon, G Jonathan Cooper, C Weston Richburg, DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, CB Richard Sherman.
Early Draft Picks:
OT Mike McGlinchey, WR Dante Pettis, LB Fred Warner, S Tarvarius Moore, DE Kentavius Street, CB D.J. Reed. 49ers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Carlos Hyde, OT Trent Brown, G Zane Beadles, C Daniel Kilgore, DE Aaron Lynch, DE Tank Carradine, DE Elvis Dumervil, CB Dontae Johnson, S Eric Reid.

2018 San Francisco 49ers Offense:
The 49ers had one of the worst offenses in the NFL last year, but that all changed on the day before Halloween when they acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots for a second-round pick. Garoppolo didn’t play for a few games because he spent some time learning the offense, but the wait was certainly worth it. Garoppolo started the final games of the season, winning every single one of them. The difference between him and the other San Francisco quarterbacks was night and day. Whereas Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard struggled, Garoppolo thrived. Garoppolo completed 67.4 percent of his passes and maintained a sterling 8.8 YPA. He threw too many interceptions – five compared to seven touchdowns – but that is something that could be corrected soon.

With a franchise quarterback in place, the 49ers needed to add talent around Garoppolo this offseason. General manager John Lynch’s first order of business was signing Jerick McKinnon. He overpaid for the former Minnesota runner, but told the media that he envisions big things from McKinnon in the offense after watching extensive tape of him. It’ll be interesting to see what head coach Kyle Shanahan comes up with, but McKinnon is expected to catch at least 60 passes this year. He won’t be able to carry the entire workload on the ground, as Matt Breida and Joe Williams could compete for opportunities.

Garoppolo didn’t really have anyone to throw to outside of the surprising Marquise Goodwin last year. That’ll change, if only by default. Pierre Garcon, the team’s top wideout last season, will return from a season-ending neck injury. Garoppolo and Garcon never played together, so that should be a promising connection. Joining Garcon and Goodwin in the receiving corps will be second-round rookie Dante Pettis, whom the 49ers traded up for. Meanwhile, tight end George Kittle showed promise as a rookie.

The interior offensive line happened to be the primary area of weakness in San Francisco’s offense entering the offseason. While the group still needs some work, it was at least bolstered by the signing of center Weston Richburg. The former Giant has played well when healthy, but has dealt with too many injuries recently, playing in just four games in 2017. Having Richburg on the field will be crucial, especially considering the liabilities at guard; projected starting guards Laken Tomlinson and Josh Garnett are both poor blockers.

Things are much better on the edges. Left tackle Joe Staley is still performing at a very high level. The bookend last year was the impressive Trent Brown, so it was perplexing when the 49ers spent the ninth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey. San Francisco then dealt Brown almost instantly, so McGlinchey will be the starting right tackle. Still, it was odd to see the 49ers use a top-10 draft choice on a lateral move.

2018 San Francisco 49ers Defense:
The splash the 49ers made prior to free agency wasn’t as huge as acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo, but they were still able to potentially aid their secondary with a future Hall of Famer, so it was an important move to help their playoff chances in 2018.

The Seahawks surprisingly cut Richard Sherman following the 2017 campaign, allowing the 49ers to pounce on him. Sherman isn’t the player he once was, as he turned 30 in March. Plus, he’s coming off a torn Achilles. However, Sherman expects to be ready for the season opener, so if that’s the case, San Francisco’s secondary will have a sorely needed upgrade. Sherman will start across from Ahkello Witherspoon, a 2017 third-round pick who showed some potential in his rookie campaign. K’Waun Williams also impressed, so he’ll be in the slot again.

While the 49ers gained an important member of their secondary in Sherman, they also lost a significant defensive back, as Eric Reid hit free agency. Adrian Colbert is expected to take over. Colbert was a seventh-round choice a year ago, but performed somewhat well in limited action last year. He’ll start next to Jaquiski Tartt, who has developed into a terrific safety.

As with the secondary, the linebacking corps was expected to undergo changes, albeit for different reasons. Linebacker Reuben Foster, who enjoyed a dynamic rookie campaign, was arrested for sexual assault. It appeared as though he was going to be cut, or at least suspended for all of 2018, but the accuser has retracted her statement. This development allowed John Lynch to refrain from drafting a linebacker like Tremaine Edmunds with the ninth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, as Foster will apparently be on the field for all of 2018, save for the first two weeks. This is obviously great news for the 49ers’ outlook, as Foster has the potential to be one of the top players at his position in the entire league. Foster’s presence is especially important because the rest of the linebacking corps is quite dubious. San Francisco may have to count on third-round rookie Fred Warner to be a big contributor because they otherwise have nothing.

The 49ers will also be counting on Solomon Thomas to play better. The third-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Thomas was fairly underwhelming as a rookie. He was decent in run support, but didn’t put much pressure on the quarterback, accumulating just three sacks. Thomas has lots of potential, however, so he should improve his performance in 2018. He’ll start across from Arik Armstead, another first-rounder who has underwhelmed thus far. Armstead hasn’t been able to stay healthy, taking the field just 14 times in the past two seasons.

The one former first-round defensive lineman who has lived up to expectations thus far is DeForest Buckner, who is coming off a magnificent season. The 24-year-old has blossomed into one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. There isn’t much beyond Buckner at the position, though 2016 fourth-rounder Sheldon Day has some potential.

2018 San Francisco 49ers Schedule and Intangibles:
The 49ers had maintained a dominant home-field advantage from 2009 to 2013, owning a 32-10-1 record in that span. However, they were just 1-7 as hosts in 2016 and 3-5 last year, though this should change with Garoppolo now on the team.

San Francisco was mixed on special teams last year. They outgained the opposition on punts, but the opposite was true when it came to kickoffs. This was the case as well in both 2015 and 2016.

In his first start with the 49ers, Robbie Gould drilled 39-of-41 attempts, including all four from beyond 50.

Bradley Pinion was 20th in net punting average in 2016. He improved to 11th in that department last year.

The 49ers begin the year on a difficult note, traveling to play the Vikings, Chiefs and Chargers in the first four weeks. They then play at Green Bay in Week 6 and battle the Rams six days later. Things get much easier later in the season.

2018 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.

2018 San Francisco 49ers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2018 San Francisco 49ers Analysis: The best thing that could’ve happened to the 49ers this offseason was the Rams picking up all of those big names via trades. There were big expectations for San Francisco beforehand, but now the burden is on Los Angeles. This could allow the 49ers to squeak out the divisional crown in what should be a tight race.

Projection: 10-6 (1st in NFC West)

2017 Projection: 4-12. 2016 Actual Result: 6-10.
2016 Projection: 3-13. 2016 Actual Result: 2-14.

NFL Draft Team Grade: C Grade

Goals Entering the 2018 NFL Draft: The 49ers seem to be poised to make a playoff run with Jimmy Garoppolo. They need some things first, however, including better guard play, as well as help in their linebacking corps and secondary. A top-notch receiver would also be a huge boon for Garoppolo.

2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: John Lynch made three mistakes in the 2018 NFL Draft. The first was picking Mike McGlinchey. The strength of the 49ers last year, prior to Jimmy Garoppolo starting, was the tackle play, so someone at that position wasn’t needed. McGlinchey’s arrival meant Trent Brown’s departure, but this was a lateral move, and San Francisco wasn’t able to improve based on what happened in the opening round. There were some stellar defenders available like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds. One of them should’ve been the pick.

The second was trading up for Dante Pettis. A receiver was needed, and Pettis is a solid prospect, but there was no run on receivers, so San Francisco would’ve been able to obtain a quality wideout had they remained at their pick. The third, meanwhile, was spending a fourth-round choice on Kentavius Street, a player who tore his ACL in pre-draft workouts. He won’t be able to contribute this year.

I don’t want to be completely negative about the 49ers because they added some solid players. I do like McGlinchey and Pettis, and they found some nice bargains in linebacker Fred Warner and cornerback D.J. Reed. However, the mistakes Lynch was guilty of have to push this grade down. The 49ers could’ve done much better than this.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

9. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame C Grade
I don’t know about this pick. The 49ers are ready to win now, so where is Mike McGlinchey going to play? San Francisco has two stellar tackles in Joe Staley and Trent Brown. McGlinchey gives them some great depth for sure, and a potential replacement for Staley down the road, but barring injuries to Staley or Brown, I don’t know how McGlinchey helps San Francisco win now.

Also, there are questions about whether or not McGlinchey can even play left tackle. Some believe McGlinchey would be better suited on the right side, and he’s not going to displace Brown.

44. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington D Grade
I had the 49ers selecting Dante Pettis – at pick No. 70. Had the 49ers remained at 59 and selected Pettis, I would’ve been fine with it, but there was no need to move up. With so many talented receivers on the board – Anthony Miller, James Washington, D.J. Chark, etc. – the value isn’t there to move up for Pettis. He fills a need – the 49ers tried to sign Allen Robinson, but failed – but the trade up for him was not necessary.

70. Fred Warner, LB, BYU A- Grade
Fred Warner is a rangy linebacker who should excel in coverage in the NFL. There were late rumblings that Warner could maybe sneak into the second round, so this is a nice value pick for the 49ers, who needed insurance in case Reuben Foster gets into more trouble.

95. Tarvarius Moore, S, Southern Miss B+ Grade
Tarvarius Moore was definitely a late riser, as I placed him in the third round of my 2018 NFL Mock Draft several weeks ago. He had an amazing pro day, running a 4.32 40 with an 11-1 broad jump. Moore is a very explosive athlete, but needs to get stronger. This is a high-upside pick that make sense, as the 49ers needed to replace Eric Reid.

128. Kentavius Street, DE, N.C. State D Grade
This is a bit of a surprise. Kentavius Street tore his ACL during pre-draft workouts and won’t be able to play until 2019. The 49ers are trying to win a Super Bowl now, so I don’t know about using a fourth-round choice on Street. I would’ve liked him much more in the sixth frame.

142. D.J. Reed, CB, Kansas State B+ Grade
I thought D.J. Reed would go in this range, so this pick makes sense, especially when considering that the 49ers needed depth at cornerback. Reed will bring some extra value as a return specialist.

184. Marcell Harris, S, Florida C Grade
Marcell Harris didn’t play last year because of a torn Achilles. I didn’t think he would be drafted, and I’m sure some teams didn’t either. But in the sixth round, the 49ers could’ve done worse.

223. Jullian Taylor, DT, Temple B+ Grade
Jullian Taylor created some buzz for himself after a strong pro day. This prompted many visits, including speculation that he would go in the late rounds. This pick makes sense for the 49ers, as they had to find some defensive line depth. Taylor has plenty of upside.

240. Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee State B+ Grade
Richie James was an explosive player for Middle Tennessee State when he was healthy, but endured one too many injuries. James had the talent to go earlier than this, but perhaps teams were concerned with his medical. Either way, the 49ers are getting a nice bargain here in the middle of the seventh round.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The 49ers had another losing season, but they at least have hope. They traded for Jimmy Garoppolo and had much more success with him late in the year. This bodes well for them going forward, but they’ll need to surround Garoppolo with better talent.

Offseason Moves:
  • 49ers cut G Zane Beadles
  • 49ers sign G Jonathan Cooper
  • 49ers sign DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
  • Dolphins acquire C Daniel Kilgore
  • 49ers sign RB Jerick McKinnon
  • 49ers sign C Weston Richburg
  • 49ers re-sign C Daniel Kilgore

    Team Needs:
    1. Center: San Francisco has to add talent and blocking around their new quarterback. It all starts in the trenches, and the 49ers have had one of the worst centers in the NFL starting for them over the past several seasons. Signed Weston Richburg; re-signed Daniel Kilgore

    2. Wide Receiver: The 49ers have Pierre Garcon returning next year, and Marquise Goodwin has flashed, but they need a true No. 1 wide receiver for Jimmy Garoppolo.

    3. Two Cornerbacks: San Francisco’s second order of business is fixing the anemic secondary. The safeties are solid, but the 49ers have absolutely nothing at cornerback, outside of Ahkello Witherspoon. Multiple new corners are needed.

    4. Two Linebackers: Linebacker is another position in dire need of an upgrade. Reuben Foster lived up to the hype as a rookie, but San Francisco has nothing around him.

    5. Defensive Tackle: DeForest Buckner has evolved into one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. The 49ers don’t have much else at the position, however.

    6. Guard: Joshua Garnett is a former first-round pick, but the selection was made by the previous regime. Garnett has been a huge disappointment, so the 49ers need to add some competition for him at the very least. Signed Jonathan Cooper

    7. Running Back: Carlos Hyde is an impending free agent, so the 49ers will need to make a decision on him soon. Saquon Barkley will be an option if he’s available in the first round. Signed Jerick McKinnon

    8. Edge Rusher Depth: The 49ers have two talented edge players in Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas, though the latter struggled as a rookie. However, Elvis Dumervil is old, while both Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine are impending free agents. San Francisco could use an early pick on a pass-rusher. Signed Jeremiah Attaochu

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2018 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Weston Richburg, C, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with 49ers (5 years)

      Weston Richburg is a talented center, but it’s scary that he missed most of 2017 with a concussion. He played in just four games with the head injury, which doesn’t bode well for his future.

    2. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings. Age: 26.
      Signed with 49ers (4 years)

      Jerick McKinnon isn’t a very good runner – he hasn’t been able to eclipse four yards per carry in either of his previous two seasons – but he’s an effective receiver out of the backfield. He had 51 receptions in 2017 and 43 the year before.

    3. Jerry Attaochu, DE/OLB, Chargers. Age: 25.
      Signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Jerry Attaochu was a former second-round pick, but hasn’t quite lived up to it. He didn’t even log a single sack in 2017. That said, he didn’t have many snaps behind Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, so perhaps he’ll improve if he gets more of a chance.

    4. Jonathan Cooper, G, Cowboys. Age: 28.
      Signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Jonathan Cooper is one of many busts from the 2013 NFL Draft, but he’s at least still playing, which is more than many other first-rounders from that class can say right now. Cooper was decent as a run-blocker this past season, but struggled in pass protection.

    5. J.J. Wilcox, S, Steelers. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers

    San Francisco 49ers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with 49ers

      Jimmy Garoppolo is a very promising 26-year-old quarterback who thrived in limited action with the 49ers. He has already won over the locker room, with the players referring to him as a “Young Tom Brady.” Garoppolo was well worth what San Francisco surrendered in the trade with the Patriots, so he’ll receive a big contract from them to be their new franchise quarterback.

    2. Eric Reid, S, 49ers. Age: 26.
      Eric Reid has missed 12 games in the past two seasons, but he’s too talented not to grade highly. Reid misses tackles, but happens to be excellent in coverage. He’s only 26, so there’s still lots of room for improvement.

    3. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Browns (3 years)

      Carlos Hyde has averaged better than four yards per carry throughout his career despite never running behind a strong offensive line. He has also been paired with mostly terrible quarterbacks throughout his time in San Francisco. Hyde has the potential to explode in the right situation.

    4. Aaron Lynch, DE, 49ers. Age: 25.
      Signed with Bears (1 year)

      Aaron Lynch registered a combined 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons, but has barely registered the stat sheet since. Lynch is physically gifted, but he has red flags for character, motivational and injury issues.

    5. Tank Carradine, DE, 49ers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Raiders

      Tank Carradine isn’t much of a pass-rusher, but he’s excellent against the run. He would probably be best as a left end in the 4-3.

    6. Elvis Dumervil, DE/OLB, 49ers. Age: 34.
      Evis Dumervil recorded 6.5 sacks this past season. Not bad for a 33-year-old, part-time player! Dumervil just turned 34 and will continue to regress, but he should have one or two more decent seasons remaining in the tank as a rotational edge rusher.

    7. Dontae Johnson, CB, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Seahawks
    8. Zane Beadles, G, 49ers. Age: 31.
    9. Daniel Kilgore, C, 49ers. Age: 30. — Re-signed with 49ers (3 years, $12 million)
    10. Garry Gilliam, OT, 49ers. Age: 27. — Re-signed with 49ers
    11. Cassius Marsh, DE, 49ers. Age: 26.
    12. Brock Coyle, ILB, 49ers. Age: 27. — Re-signed with 49ers (3 years)
    13. Logan Paulsen, TE, 49ers. Age: 31. — Signed with Falcons
    14. Louis Murphy, WR, 49ers. Age: 31.
    15. Antone Exum, S, 49ers. Age: 27.

    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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