2022 NFL Offseason: San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers (Last Year: 10-7)

2022 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Ray-Ray McCloud, TE Tyler Kroft, DE Kerry Hyder, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DT Hassan Ridgeway, LB Oren Burks, CB Charvarius Ward, S George Odum.
Early Draft Picks:
DE Drake Jackson, RB Tyrion Davis-Price, WR Danny Gray, OT Spencer Burford, CB Samuel Womack. 49ers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Raheem Mostert, WR Trent Sherfield, OT Tom Compton, G Laken Tomlinson, C Alex Mack, DE Arden Key, DT D.J. Jones, CB K’Waun Williams, CB Dontae Johnson, S Jaquiski Tartt.

2022 San Francisco 49ers Offense:
Whether it’s trading stocks or managing a football team, it’s important to identify a sunk cost. The 49ers did just that with Jimmy Garoppolo after giving him a $137 million contract a few years ago. Garoppolo quarterbacked the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, but ultimately was a liability who couldn’t score any points in the fourth quarter to put away the Chiefs. Garoppolo has otherwise struggled to stay healthy. He was on the field in 2021, but disappointed in the NFC Championship.

John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan decided that enough was enough with Garoppolo, opting to select Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick. Lance is much like Josh Allen in that he’s very physically gifted, but raw coming out of school. Lance struggled in his first NFL start, going 15-of-29 for 192 yards and an interception against the Cardinals. He drew a second start late in the year and was much better (16-23, 249, 2 TDs, 1 INT), albeit against a much softer opponent in the Texans. Lynch told the media that he believes Lance is ready to take over as the full-time starter in 2022.

Lance’s success will depend on what happens with Deebo Samuel. One of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL, Samuel has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, though nothing has materialized just yet. The 49ers spent a third-round pick on Danny Gray, who can be a very poor man’s version of Samuel, but he would be a colossal downgrade. Of course, San Francisco still has George Kittle and the emerging Brandon Aiyuk, who had an excellent second half of 2021 after being in Shanahan’s dog house to start the year.

Samuel is such an important piece of the offense because he also functions as a key component of the running game. The 49ers’ starting running back from last year, Raheem Mostert, is gone after being so unreliable in regard to his health. He won’t be missed at all because Elijah Mitchell had a brilliant 2021 campaign despite being just a sixth-round rookie. Mitchell rushed for 963 yards and five touchdowns in just 11 games. Cautious that this may have been a fluke, San Francisco spent a third-round choice on Tyrion Davis-Price as insurance. Of course, fullback Kyle Juszczyk will be around to block for Mitchell and serve as a receiver out of the backfield.

A major reason why Samuel and Mitchell ran so well for the 49ers last year was the dominant play of the offensive line. Their terrific duo of tackles, Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey, will return for 2022. Williams, turning 34 in August, remains one of the premier blind-side protectors in the NFL. Another older blocker, Alex Mack, was a great addition at center last year, but he announced his retirement. Jake Brendel is expected to take over for Mack.

The 49ers’ guard situation isn’t as great as the tackles. Daniel Brunskill was the weakest link of the unit last year, though he wasn’t a huge liability. Laken Tomlinson was much better at left guard, but he signed with the Jets this offseason. Aaron Banks, a second-round pick from 2021, is the favorite to replace Tomlinson, but fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford could challenge for both guard jobs.

2022 San Francisco 49ers Defense:
It was odd to see the 49ers struggle to pressure the quarterback in 2021. They tend to have one of the top edge rushes in the NFL, but that was hardly the case in 2021. They ranked 30th in pressure rate, with only the Colts and Falcons finishing behind them.

Nick Bosa certainly can’t be blamed for this. He notched 15.5 sacks last year, but aside from him and Arik Armstead (6 sacks), the 49ers didn’t have a consistent pressure presence. Dee Ford was supposed to be that player, but he played just six games because of back problems. John Lynch said Ford will not be back with the team in 2022, which would explain why he spent his first draft choice this April on Drake Jackson, whom Charlie Campbell compared to Whitney Mercilus. If Jackson’s not ready, Bosa’s bookend could be Kerry Hyder, who registered 8.5 sacks with the 49ers in 2020 before playing in Seattle last year.

Another disappointing player, Javon Kinlaw, has never developed into the player the 49ers thought they were getting when they spent the No. 14 pick on him in the 2020 NFL Draft. Kinlaw, who played four games last year because of a torn ACL, has just 1.5 career sacks. He’ll get one more chance next to the dominant Armstead, but the 49ers shouldn’t be holding their breath.

A weak pass rush hurt the secondary last year. The 49ers had issues defending the pass for a while because they had so many injured cornerbacks. One such player was Jason Verrett, who is excellent when healthy. Unfortunately for Verrett and his teams, that’s seldom the case. The 49ers will be hoping for better variance with Verrett this season, but they had to sign another outside cornerback to play across from him. That ended up being Charvarius Ward, who played well in Kansas City. The skilled Emmanuel Moseley will reprise his role as the team’s slot corner.

Another new member to the secondary is George Odum, who will start in place of the departed Jaquiski Tartt. It was difficult to rely on Tartt because he was constantly injured, but Odum does not project to be a quality replacement. He’ll play next to Jimmie Ward, who is much better.

Unless the pass rush really improves, the linebacking corps will continue to be the strength of the San Francisco defense. Fred Warner is arguably the best linebacker in the NFL, and he’s only 25, so he could continue to improve. Dre Greenlaw missed most of the 2022 regular season, but he returned for the playoffs and was a force, particularly against the run. Azeez Al-Shaair also played well last year.

2022 San Francisco 49ers Schedule and Intangibles:
San Francisco surrendered a touchdown on special teams last year, while failing to score itself. This happened in 2020 as well.

Robbie Gould drilled 20-of-23 attempts last year, including 3-of-4 from 50-plus. He whiffed on just one extra point.

Mitch Wishnowsky, chosen in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, finished 14th in net average in 2019 and improved to 11th in 2020. He was in the middle of the pack last year.

The 49ers have a mixed non-divisional schedule. They battle easy opponents like the Bears, Panthers, Falcons and Redskins, but they also have to battle the Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos and Raiders.

2022 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.

2022 San Francisco 49ers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2022 San Francisco 49ers Analysis: In a weakened NFC, the 49ers are one of the prime candidates to reach the Super Bowl. Of course, their level of success in 2022 will depend on how rapidly Trey Lance has developed. Lance has the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but whether he’ll ever live up to his upside is the big question. If he has taken well to Kyle Shanahan’s coaching, he could be the latest second-year quarterback to lead his team to the Super Bowl.

Projection: 11-6 (Tied 1st in NFC West)

2021 Projection: 12-5. 2021 Actual Result: 10-7.
2020 Projection: 11-5. 2020 Actual Result: 6-10.
2019 Projection: 10-6. 2019 Actual Result: 13-3.
2018 Projection: 10-6. 2018 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 2022 NFL Draft: The 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFC. They’ll need to strengthen their secondary, pass rush and interior offensive line, as well as receiver if they trade Deebo Samuel. Otherwise, they can go with the best player available because they don’t have many needs.

2022 NFL Draft Accomplishments: San Francisco didn’t have a first-round selection, but it made three picks on Day 2. I was a fan of two of them. Drake Jackson seemed like a great value at the bottom of the second round, while Danny Gray was a fine choice to close out the third frame. Gray’s value wasn’t great, but he’s some insurance for Samuel.

However, the 49ers whiffed with their other second-day choice. They reached for Tyrion Davis-Price, who didn’t even fill any sort of a need. Also, the 49ers used a fifth-round pick on Samuel Womack, who wasn’t projected to be drafted.

I’d say these were the only two poor selections the 49ers made, though a premium pick was used on Davis-Price. That choice should have been used on a cornerback, a position that wasn’t addressed until late in the fifth round. Conversely, I liked some of the 49ers’ third-day picks, including Spencer Burford, who provided strong value toward the end of the fourth frame.

Overall, the 49ers had a mixed result. Some picks were strong, but there were enough mistakes were made to weigh down the grade.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

61. Drake Jackson, DE, USC – B+ Grade
It’s not a surprise that the 49ers are addressing their pass rush, given how much Dee Ford has fallen off in recent years. Jackson is a solid prospect and I mocked him to the 49ers in my re-draft at this spot, so I like this selection.

93. Tyrion Davis-Price, RB, LSU – D Grade
The 49ers have done some sketchy things with running backs during the John Lynch-Kyle Shanahan era, and this is another instance of that. The 49ers may think that Tyrion Davis-Price will provide a hand in the backfield, but he’ll just be dwarfed by the competition. He’s a tough runner, but I thought he belonged in the sixth or seventh season, I mean round.

105. Danny Gray, WR, SMU – B- Grade
Danny Gray is a threat after the catch, so… Deebo Samuel insurance? It sure seems that way. I think this is a tad early for Gray, but it’s not an egregious reach by any means. This is a fine selection to close out Day 2.

134. Spencer Burford, OT, Texas-San Antonio – B+ Grade
It makes sense for the 49ers to find some tackle insurance because Trent Williams is in his mid-30s and could regress at any time. Burford provides nice value – I had him earlier in this round – and he could eventually be a starter for San Francisco.

172. Samuel Womack, CB, Toledo – C Grade
Another prospect who wasn’t on my board at all. Samuel Womack was a productive cornerback at Toledo, but I don’t think he projects well into the NFL. Still, he could potentially fill a big need at corner for the 49ers.

187. Nick Zakelj, OT, Fordham – B+ Grade
Another tackle pick may seem redundant, but the 49ers are making a great value choice because I thought Nick Zakelj could have easily been chosen in the fourth round. It’s nice that San Francisco shored up its offensive line depth.

220. Kalia Davis, DT, Central Florida – B+ Grade
Kalia Davis is a big run-stuffer, which is key for the 49ers as they try to combat the Rams and Seahawks. Davis is coming off a torn ACL, causing him to drop in the 2022 NFL Draft. At this point, he’s worth the risk.

221. Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Penn State – A- Grade
Wow, this is quite the fall for Tariq Castro-Fields, who used to appear in the second round of my mocks. Castro-Fields, however, had a horrible 2021 campaign. Perhaps he’s been exposed, but he could rebound and perform like he did prior to 2021. I like this gamble.

262. Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State – B Grade
Brock Purdy has no chance of becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he might be a quality backup. He can compete with Nate Sudfeld behind Trey Lance once Jimmy Garoppolo is traded. I would have preferred Carson Strong though.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The 49ers had a double-digit lead heading into the fourth quarter of a playoff game, but they blew it and ended up losing. Sound familiar? Perhaps this will change once Trey Lance takes over for Jimmy Garoppolo in 2022 and beyond.

Offseason Moves:
  • 49ers sign TE Tyler Kroft
  • 49ers sign WR Malik Turner
  • 49ers sign WR Marcus Johnson
  • 49ers sign DE Kerry Hyder
  • 49ers sign S George Odum
  • 49ers sign WR Ray-Ray McCloud
  • 49ers sign LB Oren Burks
  • 49ers sign CB Charvarius Ward

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Cornerbacks: San Francisco had very weak cornerback play this past season. Much of that had to do with Jason Verrett’s injury, but Verrett is always hurt. He’s also an impending free agent. Meanwhile, stellar slot cornerback K’Waun Williams will see his contract expire as well. Signed Charvarius Ward; re-signed Jason Verrett

    2. Defensive End: It sounds weird to say that the 49ers need to improve their edge rush, but it’s true. Dee Ford has been a shell of his former self in the past two seasons, so the 49ers need to start thinking about a replacement. Signed Kerry Hyder

    3. Defensive Tackle: Javon Kinlaw hasn’t lived up to his first-round status yet, while D.J. Jones is an impending free agent. Signed Hassan Ridgeway

    4. Guard: Laken Tomlinson is one of San Francisco’s top free agents. His presence in the interior of the offensive line will be missed if he departs.

    5. Safety: Jaquiski Tartt will need to be re-signed or replaced as well. Signed George Odum

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2022 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Charvarius Ward, CB, Chiefs. Age: 26.
      Signed with 49ers (3 years, $42 million)

      Despite being an undrafted free agent back in 2018, Charvarius Ward worked hard and became an important part of Kansas City’s secondary. He missed some action last year, but the Chiefs’ defense improved when he returned to the field.

    2. Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Steelers. Age: 25. — Signed with 49ers (2 years)
    3. Kerry Hyder, DE, Seahawks. Age: 31. — Signed with 49ers (1 year)
    4. George Odum, S, Colts. Age: 28. — Signed with 49ers
    5. Malik Turner, WR, Cowboys. Age: 26. — Signed with 49ers
    6. Tyler Kroft, TE, Jets. Age: 29. — Signed with 49ers
    7. Oren Burks, LB, Packers. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers
    8. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Seahawks. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers
    9. Marcus Johnson, WR, Titans. Age: 28. — Signed with 49ers
    10. Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Eagles. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers (1 year)

    San Francisco 49ers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Laken Tomlinson, G, 49ers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Jets (3 years, $40 million)

      Laken Tomlinson is a stout guard with no weaknesses. He turns 30 this offseason, but guards can perform on a high level into their 30s.

    2. K’Waun Williams, CB, 49ers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Broncos (2 years, $7 million)

      K’Waun Williams is an excellent slot cornerback. The only concern is his age (31 in October), but he has shown no signs of slowing down.

    3. Jaquiski Tartt, S, 49ers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Eagles

      The “lesser” of the two 49er safeties, Jaquiski Tartt is a big help in run support. He turns 30 this offseason.

    4. Jason Verrett, CB, 49ers. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Jason Verrett is a shutdown cornerback when healthy, but he’s not on the field very often. He has played just 20 of 97 possible games over the past six seasons.

    5. Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Dolphins

      Raheem Mostert would have a much better ranking if he could stay healthy. Unfortunately, Mostert is always hurt. He has missed 31 games in the past four years. Now 30, Mostert is unlikely to have improved luck in this regard.

    6. D.J. Jones, DT, 49ers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Broncos (3 years, $30 million)

      D.J. Jones is a quality run stuffer who can get after the quarterback on occasion. He has done well for himself, considering he was a former sixth-round pick.

    7. Arden Key, DE, 49ers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Jaguars (2 years, $7 million)

      A former third-round selection, Arden Key was a quality, situational pass rusher for the 49ers this season, logging 6.5 sacks.

    8. Tom Compton, OT/G, 49ers. Age: 33.
      Signed with Broncos (1 year)

      Tom Compton stepped in for an injured Mike McGlinchey and did very well, especially when it came to run blocking. He’s 33, however, so there aren’t many great days left.

    9. Dontae Johnson, CB, 49ers. Age: 30.
    10. Trent Sherfield, WR, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Dolphins (1 year)
    11. Maurice Hurst, DT, 49ers. Age: 27.
    12. Josh Norman, CB, 49ers. Age: 34.
    13. Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, 49ers. Age: 26. — Re-signed with 49ers
    14. Richie James, WR, 49ers. Age: 26.
    15. Jarrod Wilson, S, 49ers. Age: 28.
    16. Kentavius Street, DT, 49ers. Age: 25. — Signed with Saints
    17. Jordan Willis, DE, 49ers. Age: 27. — Re-signed with 49ers
    18. Mohamed Sanu, WR, 49ers. Age: 33. — Signed with Dolphins
    19. Marcell Harris, LB, 49ers. Age: 28.
    20. Tavon Wilson, S, 49ers. Age: 32.
    21. Ross Dwelley, TE, 49ers. Age: 27. — Re-signed with 49ers
    22. Trenton Cannon, RB, 49ers. Age: 27. — Signed with Titans
    23. Travis Benjamin, WR/KR, 49ers. Age: 32.
    24. Tarvarius Moore, S, 49ers. Age: 27.

    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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