The 49ers open with the 11th best odds to win next year’s Super Bowl. The question is, what’s the next step for the 49ers this offseason?
The 49ers biggest free agents are: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Running back Carlos Hyde, corner back Dontae Johnson, and Safety Eric Reid.
Lets just start by saying that there is no way John Lynch lets Garoppolo leave. You don’t trade a second-round pick for a guy midseason to just let leave when the season ends. Especially not a guy who finished the season the way Garoppolo did. If they cannot come to a contract agreement before next season, which I believe they can, then Garoppolo will just be franchised tagged.
As for the rest of the top free agents, who to keep and who not to keep varies. Hyde has been a promising back at times during his professional career but has not managed to stay healthy. His current market value is set at around six million a year. Which is way to high for San Francisco to retain him at in my opinion. Hyde has never gone over 1,000 yards in a season, though he has got close the past two years, having 988 in 2016 and 938 in 2017 with 2017 being his only full season. I don’t think John Lynch will entertain the idea of keeping him at his current rate.
Johnson played 91% of snaps at corner for the 49ers this season. He struggled many times this year and has struggled against many second tier wide receivers in the league. The corner back position is one of the 49ers biggest needs and they are expected to upgrade during the draft and or through free agency.
Who to replace?
At running back look at the 49ers to draft a back in the later rounds. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has been very successful in his career in discovering late round backs. Just look at what he was able to do with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in Atlanta. The good news is that this is a very deep running back class so there will be some gems found in the later rounds. Some potential picks in the third round or later to look at are: Rashaad Penny, Ryan Nall, Josh Adams, Akrum Wadley, Royce Freeman, Martez Carter, Kalen Ballage, and others.
The 49ers are going into free agency with over $100 million in their salary cap. This means they are going to be able to potentially reel in some big-time players. For cornerbacks the top guys in free agency right now is Trumaine Johnson, Johnathan Joseph, Malcolm Butler, and E.J. Gaines. One potential player who might be released is Giants corner back Eli Apple. Apple has had a rough year and he has been a mess in the locker room. If Lynch and Shanahan think they can get him back to showing the potential he had in 2016 then, they might think about bringing him in for a look. There are also a lot of good late round corner backs that will be worth drafting to develop for the near future.
One of the biggest positions of need for the 49ers is a true number one wide receiver. They do have Marquise Godwin, who has good chemistry with Garoppolo at quarterback, but adding someone to compliment him will be one of the 49ers top priorities. The number one receiver on the market here is Jarvis Landry. The free agent receiver pool isn’t too deep, but a big free agent sign at this position would help the team out a lot. The draft is also a good place to look for a young guy to pair with the teams young quarterback. There are many receivers to target in the later rounds of the draft like Auden Tate, Braxton Berrios, Marcell Ateman, Jaleel Scott, Darren Carrington, and Michael Gallup.
2018 Draft Preview
Here is the 2018 mock draft for the 49ers. The draft order is brought to you by tankathon.com. It is important to keep in mind that this is purely speculation and that most likely none of this becomes true. However, if this were the results of the draft, it would be an excellent one. The 49ers would address multiple needs and get players with lots of potential in the late rounds.
Round one Pick nine/ten (decided by a coin flip at the combine): Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Round two Pick 59: Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
Round three Pick 70: Holton Hill, CB, Texas
Round three Pick 74: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Round four Pick 124: Davin Bellamy, OLB, UGA
Round five Pick 134: Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia
Round six Pick 170: Godwin Igwebuike, S, Northwestern
Round seven Pick 202: Kentavius Street, DL, N.C. State
Round seven Pick 214: Shaquem Griffin, OLB, UCF