2019 NFL Offseason: San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers (Last Year: 4-12)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Tevin Coleman, WR Jordan Matthews, G Ben Garland, C Wesley Johnson, DE Dee Ford, LB Kwon Alexander, LB David Mayo, CB Jason Verrett.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/OLB Nick Bosa, WR Deebo Samuel, WR Jalen Hurd, P Mitch Wishnowsky, LB Dre Greenlaw. 49ers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Alfred Morris, WR Pierre Garcon, P Bradley Pinion.

2019 San Francisco 49ers Offense:
The 49ers had tons of hype heading into 2018. They were even projected to finish 10-6 in this space last year. They won just four games, however, as their campaign was derailed in Week 3 when Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending injury. San Francisco had to endure some horrid quarterbacking from C.J. Beathard after that. Nick Mullens did well to close out the season, but the damage had already been done.

Garoppolo figures to be 100 percent heading into training camp, which is obviously great news. While Garoppolo was absent, the 49ers managed to develop two dynamic play-makers Garoppolo will be able to utilize. Tight end George Kittle became one of the best players at his position in the NFL, catching 88 passes for 1,377 yards in just his second season. Dante Pettis, meanwhile, showed flashes of greatness in his rookie campaign. In his final five games with a competent quarterback in Mullens, Pettis hauled in 20 receptions for 359 yards and four touchdowns. That would be 1,184 yards and 12 touchdowns over a 16-game span with Mullens. Now, imagine what Pettis will do now that he has more experience and also Garoppolo throwing the ball to him.

Pettis was a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, so he should improve in his second season. Meanwhile, another second-round pick, Deebo Samuel, should be able to contribute as a rookie. Marquise Goodwin will also be around to catch deep passes, but he can’t be relied upon to remain healthy.

The 49ers also added a new running back to their rotation, picking up Tevin Coleman in free agency. Coleman struggled with the Falcons last year in an attempt to replace the injured Devonta Freeman. Coleman, however, had success with Kyle Shanahan when the two were together in Atlanta, so he could have a rebound campaign. If not, Matt Breida has proven that he can be a threat out of the backfield. Jerick McKinnon, meanwhile, should serve as a potent pass-catching weapon.

An underrated aspect of San Francisco’s roster is how talented the offensive line is. They have an excellent tackle tandem in Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey. Staley has been one of the better blind-side protectors in the NFL over the years, while McGlinchey thrived as a rookie and is expected to take the next step in his second season. The interior blockers weren’t as dominant last year, but they did a solid job for the part. Mike Person and Laken Tomlinson are adequate protectors, but there’s some concern with center Weston Richburg, who is dealing with a bum quad. Richburg always seems to be hurt, so this is not a surprise.

2019 San Francisco 49ers Defense:
The 49ers did well offensively last year when either Jimmy Garoppolo or Nick Mullens was quarterbacking the team, but the defense struggled throughout the entire season. The worst aspect of San Francisco’s stop unit was its pass defense, which ranked just 27th in efficiency. The 49ers absolutely had to do something about this, and they managed to find two solutions this offseason.

While San Francisco’s secondary is lacking in talent, a major issue was the team’s inability to put tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Aside from Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, no 49er logged more than 5.5 sacks in 2018. That is sure to change in the wake of the front office’s decision to trade for Dee Ford and then spend the second-overall selection on Nick Bosa. Ford was stellar last season for the Chiefs, while Bosa has immense talent. Both will surely bolster a lacking edge rush, providing a much-needed boost to the defensive backfield. Former first-rounder Solomon Thomas won’t play nearly as much, but he’ll still help on run downs, as will Arik Armstead.

The 49ers will need Bosa, Ford and Buckner to be at their best because they didn’t do much to improve their secondary. Richard Sherman is still the only surely dependable player the 49ers have at cornerback, and he could be better in 2019 than he was last year because he’ll now be two seasons removed from a major injury. San Francisco will be hoping that Ahkello Witherspoon bounces back; he had a solid rookie campaign in 2017, but as atrocious this past year. K’Wuan Williams should be fine in the slot. Meanwhile, newly acquired Jason Verrett could be in the mix, but his dubious injury history makes it difficult to trust him.

San Francisco’s safety situation seems even worse. Jaquiski Tartt is not a bad player because he’s decent in run support, but he tends to get burned in coverage. The other safety spot is up for grabs between several players, but it won’t be much of a competition.

The 49er linebacking corps was in shambles as well last season, but the front office at least addressed that area this offseason, as general manager John Lynch spent lots of money on Kwon Alexander. The former Buccaneer can play well when healthy, but he’s missed 14 games over the past couple of years. If he can remain on the field, he’ll start next to Fred Warner, who flashed some potential as a rookie last season.

2019 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, 3-5 in 2017 and 4-4 last year, though this should change with Garoppolo ready to start more games.

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 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In his second season with the 49ers, Robbie Gould drilled 33-of-34 tries. This was after he hit 39-of-41 attempts in 2017. He’s a perfect 6-of-6 from 50-plus in that span.

Bradley Pinion did not do a good job as the team’s punter last year, so he has been replaced by fifth-round rookie Mitch Wishnowsky.

The 49ers have a chance to begin the year on a positive note, as their first two games are against the Buccaneers and Bengals. They also battle the Redskins and Cardinals (twice) in the their first 10 games. Their final four contests are difficult, however, as they’ll have to take on the Saints (road), Falcons (home), Rams (home) and Seahawks (road).

2019 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.

2019 San Francisco 49ers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 San Francisco 49ers Analysis: The 49ers never had a chance last year because of Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury. If Garoppolo plays as well as expected in his return, the 49ers will have a good chance of not only making the playoffs, but winning the NFC West. It helps that they have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and their defense will be better with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford hounding opposing quarterbacks.

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

2018 Projection: 10-6. 2017 Actual Result: 4-12.
2017 Projection: 4-12. 2017 Actual Result: 6-10.
2016 Projection: 3-13. 2016 Actual Result: 2-14.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The 49ers are close to becoming a playoff team once more. First, they must improve their defense, particularly their pass rush (via Nick Bosa) and secondary. They’ll also have to give Jimmy Garoppolo another talented receiver to throw to.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Nick Bosa was an easy pick. The 49ers haven’t boasted a potent edge rush since the early part of this decade, and Bosa will change that. He’ll help an ailing secondary that was torched relentlessly last year.

The 49ers, however, didn’t add to their secondary like they were supposed to. Instead, they wasted picks on a second receiver (Jalen Hurd) and a punter, which was absolutely inexcusable. There’s no reason to draft a punter prior to the seventh round. Punters grow on trees and can be found anywhere. Talented cornerbacks, conversely, are not in ample supply.

Outside of the Hurd and punter gaffes, San Francisco had a solid draft. It could have been better with a couple of defensive backfield upgrades, but the offense at least was given a jolt with the selection of Deebo Samuel atop Round 2.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

2. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State A Grade
If you ask any NFL personnel man who the best player in the 2019 NFL Draft happens to be, they’ll give you one of two answers: Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. The 49ers, as a result, are getting arguably the best player in the class at the No. 2 spot, and that particular prospect happens to fill a huge need. San Francisco’s edge rush has been non-existent in recent years, and Nick Bosa will definitely change that.

I think this pick deserves an “A” grade. The 49ers aren’t landing a steal with this choice, but they could’ve done stupid like trade down or pick a lesser player. Instead, they’ve helped themselves immensely as they make a run at the playoffs in 2019.

36. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina B+ Grade
This is a very logical pick. Deebo Samuel was always expected to be chosen early in the second round, and the 49ers really need a receiver. They were in on the Antonio Brown sweepstakes at one point, but saw him go to the other Bay Area team. Samuel obviously isn’t Brown, but he’ll give San Francisco a considerable upgrade at the position across from Dante Pettis.

67. Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor C- Grade
Another receiver? I don’t get it. The 49ers have many other needs to address, so I don’t agree with two early choices being used on a wideout. I could understand it if Jalen Hurd happened to be a steal, but he’s not. He’s a terrific athlete, but happens to be a very raw route runner. He’s a project who should’ve been chosen in the fourth round.

110. Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah GENE SMITH Grade
Long ago, Jaguars general manager Gene Smith used a third-round pick on a punter. He passed on Russell Wilson in the process. This is a classic example of why you should never draft a punter prior to the seventh round. This is a wasted pick, and an easy “F.”

148. Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas C- Grade
I had Dre Greenlaw as a fringe draftable prospect, mocking him in the seventh round. Greenlaw has great instincts, so it’s a shame that he’s small and very unathletic. Greenlaw will have to work hard to make the 53-man roster. Perhaps he can help on special teams.

176. Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford B+ Grade
Kaden Smith should not have declared as a redshirt sophomore. He needed to prove that he can stay healthy, as he has an extensive injury history. Instead, Smith had a poor pre-draft process, struggling with his testing numbers at the combine. Additionally, Smith never developed as a blocker, so it’s hardly a surprise that he dropped to the sixth round. Still, he provides decent value here, as I had him going at the end of the fourth round in my mock.

183. Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt D Grade
This is definitely a reach. I didn’t have Justin Skule in my top-500 players, and he never once appeared in any of my weekly mock drafts. The 49ers could’ve gotten Skule as a UDFA or in the seventh round.

198. Tim Harris, CB/S, Virginia B Grade
Tim Harris is a versatile defensive back who can play cornerback and safety. He’s talented, but has an extensive injury history. He had to take two medical redshirts at Virginia. Harris could develop into a good backup if he can stay healthy, but that’s a big “if.”

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The 49ers had high hopes entering the season, but those disappeared in Week 3 when Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the year. Some young players developed in Garoppolo’s absence, so San Francisco could be in a good spot to make a run at the division in 2019.

Offseason Moves:
  • 49ers sign C Wesley Johnson
  • 49ers sign WR Jordan Matthews
  • 49ers sign LB David Mayo
  • 49ers sign CB Jason Verrett
  • 49ers sign RB Tevin Coleman
  • 49ers acquire DE Dee Ford from Chiefs for 2020 2nd-round pick
  • 49ers sign LB Kwon Alexander

    Team Needs:
    1. Cornerback: San Francisco had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last year. Richard Sherman was the only viable cornerback on the roster, and he won’t be around much longer. Signed Jason Verrett

    2. Safety: Safety is also a position of major weakness. An upgrade is sorely needed, and one could be obtained in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

    3. Linebacker: The 49ers cut Reuben Foster way too soon, as they should’ve waited to see if he was guilty of the accused crime. As a result, they’ll need to replace him this offseason. Fred Warner played well as a rookie, but more help is needed at linebacker. Signed Kwon Alexander

    4. Edge Rusher: Solomon Thomas stops the run well, but he’s been a bust as a pass rusher thus far in his young career. San Francisco needs to bring in a potent edge rusher. Nick Bosa would’ve been ideal, but the 49ers won one too many games. Traded for Dee Ford

    5. Wide Receiver: Dante Pettis looked great to close out the year, while Marquise Goodwin is a potent downfield threat. However, the 49ers are missing a No. 1 receiver, preferably a veteran presence who could help in the meeting room. Signed Jordan Matthews

    6. Center: Weston Richburg struggled in his first year in San Francisco. An upgrade could be used at center.

    7. Defensive Tackle: DeForest Buckner is one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. However, the 49ers could use another dominant presence next to him in the interior of the defensive line.

    8. Kicker: Robbie Gould is one of the top kickers in the NFL, but he’s an impending free agent. Franchised Robbie Gould

    9. Punter: Bradley Pinion’s contract is also set to expire. He’ll need to be replaced if he’s not retained.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Kwon Alexander, ILB, Buccaneers. Age: 25.
      Signed with 49ers (4 years, $54 million; $27 million guaranteed)

      Kwon Alexander played in only six games last year because he tore his ACL in late October. Alexander, a decent middle linebacker, should be ready to play by the season opener. He’s still only 25, so he still has time to improve his game.

    2. Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons. Age: 26.
      Signed with 49ers (2 years, $10 million)

      Tevin Coleman had the opportunity to have a dominant year as the sole ball-carrier in Atlanta when Devonta Freeman went down with an injury. Coleman disappointed, however, gaining only 800 rushing yards. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry, but that is a misleading stat which came to light because of a couple of long runs versus Arizona’s abysmal defense.

    3. Jason Verrett, CB, Chargers. Age: 28.
      Signed with 49ers (1 year, $3.6 million)

      Jason Verrett is a very talented cornerback, but he just can’t stay healthy. He’s played in just five of 48 possible games the past three years.

    4. David Mayo, ILB, Panthers. Age: 26. — Signed with 49ers (2 years)
    5. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers
    6. Wesley Johnson, C, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Signed with 49ers

    San Francisco 49ers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Robbie Gould, K, 49ers. Age: 36.
      Franchised by 49ers

      Robbie Gould was one of the top kickers in the NFL last year, drilling 33-of-34 attempts, including 11-of-12 40-plus. He’s 6-of-6 from beyond 50 the past two seasons.

    2. Bradley Pinion, P, 49ers. Age: 25.
      Signed with Buccaneers (4 years)

      Bradley Pinion was 10th in net punting average in 2017, but fell to 24th last year.

    3. Jimmie Ward, S, 49ers. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with 49ers (1 year, $5 million)

      Jimmie Ward has been a disappointment as a former first-round pick. He’s missed seven or more games in three of his five seasons thus far, and he’s played in just 16-of-32 possible games in the past two years. Ward hasn’t been very good when on the field either.

    4. Raheem Mostert (RFA), RB, 49ers. Age: 27. — Re-signed with 49ers (3 years)
    5. Alfred Morris, RB, 49ers. Age: 30.
    6. Pierre Garcon, WR, 49ers. Age: 33.
    7. Garry Gilliam, OT, 49ers. Age: 28.
    8. Brock Coyle, LB, 49ers. Age: 28. — Announced retirement
    9. Tyvis Powell (RFA), S, 49ers. Age: 25.

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

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