2023 NFL Offseason: San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers (Last Year: 13-4)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Sam Darnold, QB Brandon Allen, WR Chris Conley, OT Matt Pryor, C Jon Feliciano, DE Clelin Ferrell, DT Javon Hargrave, CB Isaiah Oliver, K Zane Gonzalez.
Early Draft Picks:
S Ji’Ayir Brown, K Jake Moody, TE Cameron Latu, CB Darrell Luter, DE Robert Beal. 49ers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, OT Mike McGlinchey, C Jake Brendel, DE Samson Ebukam, DE Charles Omenihu, DT Maurice Hurst, DT Hassan Ridgeway, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, CB Jason Verrett, CB Emmanuel Moseley, S Jimmie Ward, K Robbie Gould.

2023 San Francisco 49ers Offense:
If any supporter of the 49ers were told that the 2022 season would fall on the shoulders if Brock Purdy, they likely would have given up and begun looking ahead to 2023. Purdy, however, was better than anyone could have ever imagined as the Mr. Irrelevant pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Purdy stepped in for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo and completed 67.1 percent if his passes on an 8.1 YPA and a 13:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He looked like he would give the 49ers a good chance of winning the Super Bowl before suffering an elbow injury in the NFC Championship.

Purdy had elbow surgery and may not be ready for Week 1. Trey Lance is also dealing with an injury, so there’s a chance Sam Darnold will be the starter to open the year. This is obviously far from ideal, given how much of a bust he has been since being chosen third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold can be coached up by Kyle Shanahan, so his chances of performing well would improve if the 49ers still had the same supporting cast from last year. That, however, is not the case.

The big name to depart on this side of the ball is Mike McGlinchey, who was a stellar right tackle for the 49ers. He’ll be replaced by 2020 fifth-round pick Colton McKivitz, who has barely played in the NFL. San Francisco will at least still have All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, who is performing at an extremely high level despite being in his mid-30s.

The 49ers will also have a new center, as Jon Feliciano will replace Jake Brendel, who was filling in for the retired Alex Mack. Feliciano is a mediocre blocker, but is versatile enough to play guard as well. And speaking of guards, San Francisco’s duo will be Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford. Banks is an average lineman, while Burford struggled last year as a fourth-round rookie. Perhaps he’ll improve with experience.

Excluding the issues on the offensive line, the 49ers have plenty of firepower elsewhere. This includes the backfield, as the team traded for Christian McCaffrey last year. McCaffrey always seems prone to being injured, but he’s one of the most dynamic play-makers when healthy.

The other three primary pass-catchers will once again be George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. Kittle is one of the top tight ends in the NFL, while Samuel is an extremely versatile receiver. Aiyuk, meanwhile, had an uneven start to his career, but has worked himself out of Shanahan’s dog house to become a viable tertiary downfield option.

2023 San Francisco 49ers Defense:
The 49ers lost personnel on both sides of the ball. Those who departed on the defensive side of the ball were depth players, including Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu, Maurice Hurst, and Hassan Ridgeway. This will be a problem if the starters suffer injuries, but if this doesn’t occur, it won’t be a huge issue. There’s also the matter of 2022 second-round pick Drake Jackson improving. Jackson has great athletic ability, but barely played last year.

While the depth players on the defensive line are gone, the primary players will continue to reprise their roles, and they’ll be joined by the newly signed Javon Hargrave, who is coming off a great season with the Eagles. Obviously, the primary cog in the unit is Nick Bosa, the 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Bosa logged 18.5 sacks despite missing two games. There’s also Arik Armstead, a terrific player who is coming off a down year.

San Francisco’s dominant pass rush has been masking problems in the secondary for several seasons. The primary issue is at cornerback, though there’s at least one talented player at the position in Charvarius Ward, who is coming off a strong season. Otherwise, the 49ers had issues covering talented receiving corps, as Deommodore Lenoir struggled opposite Ward. Emmanuel Moseley was solid in the slot, but he departed this spring. The pedestrian Isaiah Oliver was signed to be a replacement.

While the 49ers will be weak at cornerback, they can at least say that safety will be a strength again. Talanoa Hufanga emerged as a stellar performer in his second year after being a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The mediocre Tashaun Gipson will start next to Hufanga to begin the season, but there’s a good chance that third-round rookie Ji’Ayir Brown will supplant him sooner rather than later. Brown is a very instinctive safety, so he could break into the lineup rather quickly.

San Francisco will be extremely strong over the middle of the field. Not only are they solid at safety; they have an exceptional linebacking corps. Fred Warner is arguably the best off-ball linebacker in the NFL, while Dre Greenlaw made a huge upgrade to his game last year. Both Warner and Greenlaw are just 26, so they’ll continue to dominate in San Francisco for many years to come.

2023 San Francisco 49ers Schedule and Intangibles:
Robbie Gould was San Francisco’s kicker for a long time, but the team has moved on from him. The front office drafted Jake Moody in the third round to be Gould’s replacement.

Mitch Wishnowsky, chosen in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, had one of the worst net-punting averages in the NFL last year, but he did a great job of pinning opponents inside the 20.

The 49ers have a mixed non-divisional schedule. They get easy opponents like the Buccaneers, Vikings and Redskins, but they also have to battle the Eagles, Bengals, and Ravens.

2023 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.

2023 San Francisco 49ers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 San Francisco 49ers Analysis: The 49ers will continue to be one of the better teams in the NFC, but it would be a surprise if they’re as good as they were last year. They lost their Pro Bowl right tackle, key depth on the defensive line, and a couple of defensive backs. There’s also the matter of the health of their quarterbacks. This should mean fewer wins for the 49ers, but a divisional title is still likely.

Projection: 12-5 (1st in NFC West)

2022 Projection: 11-6. 2022 Actual Result: 13-4.
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 2023 NFL Draft: The 49ers won’t be on the clock until the 99th-overall pick, so they won’t be able to land a great prospect. What they’ll be able to do is replenish the depth they lost this offseason. Finding a new right tackle is essential as well because Mike McGlinchey was lost in free agency.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Talk about consistency: Of the 49ers’ eight picks, six of them happened to fall in the B+ to B- range. As it so happened, all six of those were the final six selections, as the two outliers were San Francisco’s initial two third-round choices.

There was a great dichotomy between those two picks. I loved the Ji’Ayir Brown selection. Brown is an extremely instinctive safety who is always at the right place at the right time. He could emerge as a turnover machine for the 49ers. Conversely, San Francisco wasted a third-round pick on a kicker. Jake Moody is a promising kicker prospect, but kickers should never be chosen in the first four rounds unless they have a bionic leg and can consistently nail 80-yard attempts.

Aside from the Moody selection, the 49ers put together a quality draft class. This was impressive, considering that they weren’t slated to pick prior to No. 99.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

87. Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State – A+ Grade
I love Ji’Ayir Brown. He’s not the biggest or fastest safety, but he’s the most instinctive safety in this class. Because of that trait, he can start for the 49ers on Day 1, which is essential because San Francisco had a big need at the position.

99. Jake Moody, K, Michigan – D Grade
Kickers are not people, Rich Eisen. They are abominations. And they certainly should not be chosen in the third round. Fifth round, OK. Third round, no. The 49ers needed a real player and person here.

101. Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama – B- Grade
The 49ers wanted a second tight end to go along with George Kittle, so here we go. Cameron Latu has plus athleticism and size, but has a checkered injury history. He makes sense at the end of the third round in this loaded tight end class.

155. Darrell Luter, CB, South Alabama – B Grade
The 49ers needed cornerback depth, and Darrell Luter is someone I had slotted 12 picks later than this. Luter was excellent at South Alabama, but we’ll have to see how he performs with far better athletes.

173. Robert Beal, DE, Georgia – B- Grade
Robert Beal surprised a bit in his workouts, as there seemed to be limited upside with him. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone in the NFL. I didn’t have him drafted, but this pick makes sense. The 49ers needed to add depth to their defensive front after losing some players in free agency.

216. Dee Winters, LB, TCU – B+ Grade
Dee Winters is a solid run defender who can stand to improve in coverage. I had Winters going in the fifth round, so this is decent value. Linebacker depth was a need, so I think this is a quality selection.

247. Brayden Willis, TE, Oklahoma – B+ Grade
Brayden Willis is undersized, but he’s an excellent blocker. It’s a fine time to draft blocking tight ends in the seventh round.

253. Ronnie Bell, WR, Michigan – B Grade
Ronnie Bell is a smart receiver with quality route-running ability. He’s a limited athlete, however, so there’s not much upside for the final round.

255. Jalen Graham, LB, Purdue – B- Grade
Jalen Graham is a small linebacker who struggles to tackle. He can cover well, but he’s going to be abused in run support. He may have to stick to special teams.

Season Summary:
The 49ers were down to their fourth quarterback in the NFC Championship. Considering what they did with their third quarterback, Brock Purdy, their season has to be considered a great success.

Offseason Moves:
  • 49ers sign QB Brandon Allen
  • 49ers sign WR Chris Conley
  • 49ers sign OT Matt Pryor
  • 49ers acquire K Zane Gonzalez for conditional 2025 pick
  • 49ers sign DE Austin Bryant
  • 49ers sign C Jon Feliciano
  • 49ers sign CB Isaiah Oliver
  • 49ers sign DE Clelin Ferrell
  • 49ers sign QB Sam Darnold
  • 49ers sign DT Javon Hargrave

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Cornerbacks: The 49ers have an elite roster, but they had a major problem at cornerback. They surrendered some huge performances to receivers down the stretch. Signed Isaiah Oliver

    2. Defensive Tackle: Javon Kinlaw has been a bust thus far. The 49ers will need to add competition for him.

    3. Right Tackle: It’s imperative for the 49ers to re-sign Mike McGlinchey, who is one of the better right tackles in the NFL. Signed Matt Pryor

    4. Center: Jake Brendel is another impending free agent. The 49ers may want to get better at center after losing Alex Mack. Re-signed Jake Brendel

    5. Safety: Jimmie Ward is set to hit free agency as well. He’ll need to be replaced or re-signed.

    6. Kicker: Robbie Gould will have to be retained as well before he enters free agency. Traded for Zane Gonzalez

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Jon Feliciano, C/G, Giants. Age: 31.
      Signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Jon Feliciano was a nice signing for the Giants last offseason, as he helped bolster Daniel Jones’ pass protection. Feliciano is solid, but unspectacular, though he can play both center and guard.

    2. Javon Hargrave, DT, Eagles. Age: 30.
      Signed with 49ers (4 years, $80 million)

      Javon Hargrave was a dynamic interior pass rusher for the Eagles last year, though he was constantly beat up against the run.

    3. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Raiders. Age: 26.
      Signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Clelin Ferrell has been a huge bust as the former No. 4 overall pick, but perhaps he still has potential. He has totaled just 10 sacks in his career thus far.

    4. Sam Darnold, QB, Panthers. Age: 26.
      Signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Sam Darnold has not played like a two-star free agent, but he has upside as a former top-three pick in the draft. Perhaps someone will get the most out of him, much like the Seahawks did with another former Jets quarterback bust.

    5. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Falcons. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers
    6. Austin Bryant, DE, Lions. Age: 26. — Signed with 49ers
    7. Matt Pryor, OT, Colts. Age: 28. — Signed with 49ers
    8. Brandon Allen, QB, Bengals. Age: 30. — Signed with 49ers
    9. Chris Conley, WR, Titans. Age: 30. — Signed with 49ers

    San Francisco 49ers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Mike McGlinchey, OT, 49ers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Broncos (5 years, $87.5 million)

      Mike McGlinchey has been one of the better right tackles in the NFL for quite some time. He’s not an elite player, but is definitely in the second tier at the position.

    2. Jimmie Ward, S, 49ers. Age: 32.
      Signed with Texans

      Jimmie Ward is a terrific safety when healthy. The problem is that he has played only two full seasons in his career, and he missed five games last year. Now 32, Ward could have greater issues remaining off the injury report.

    3. Robbie Gould, K, 49ers. Age: 40.
      Robbie Gould is now 40, yet he’s still one of the top kickers in the NFL. He went 27-of-32 last year, including 2-of-2 from 50-plus.

    4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Raiders (3 years, $67.5 million)

      Jimmy Garoppolo has proven that he can make multiple deep trips into the playoffs with a great supporting cast around him. The problem with him is his durability. He has played just one full season in his career.

    5. Jason Verrett, CB, 49ers. Age: 32.
      Jason Verrett is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL when healthy. Unfortunately, the “when healthy” part is extremely rare. Verrett missed all of 2022.

    6. Emmanuel Moseley, CB, 49ers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Lions (1 year, $6 million)

      Emmanuel Moseley is a quality slot cornerback, though he tore his ACL in early October.

    7. Jake Brendel, C, 49ers. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with 49ers (4 years)

      Jake Brendel did a solid job as a replacement for Alex Mack, who retired before the season. He was better in pass protection than run blocking.

    8. Samson Ebukam, DE/OLB, 49ers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Colts (3 years)

      Samson Ebukam is a solid rotational edge rusher who has notched 18.5 sacks in the past four seasons.

    9. Azeez Al-Shaair, LB, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Titans
    10. Charles Omenihu, DE, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Chiefs (2 years)
    11. Kerry Hyder, DE, 49ers. Age: 32. — Re-signed with 49ers
    12. Maurice Hurst, DT, 49ers. Age: 28. — Signed with Browns
    13. Hassan Ridgeway, DT, 49ers. Age: 28. — Signed with Texans
    14. Jordan Willis, DE, 49ers. Age: 28.
    15. Josh Johnson, QB, 49ers. Age: 37. — Signed with Ravens
    16. Tyler Kroft, TE, 49ers. Age: 30. — Signed with Dolphins
    17. Ross Dwelley, TE, 49ers. Age: 28. — Re-signed with 49ers
    18. Tarvarius Moore, CB, 49ers. Age: 27. — Signed with Packers

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

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12