San Francisco 49ers Offseason Grade
OL Mike Person – B+ Impact 7/10
K Robbie Gould – A Impact TBD
RB Raheem Mostert – C Impact 4/10
DB Jimmie Ward – B+ Impact 8/10
S Antone Exum – B Impact 6/10
John Lynch and Co. did a phenomenal job at retaining their own players, especially ones who can make a huge impact. Mike Person is going to be a valuable commodity along their offensive line, while Jimmie Ward will bring experience and reliability to the secondary when he returns from his broken collarbone. Until Ward comes back, Antone Exum will take on a larger role in the secondary.
The only caveat with this group of resigning is that of Robbie Gould. The veteran kicker received the franchise tag from the 49ers. However, Gould requested a trade to be closer to his hometown of Chicago. While head coach Kyle Shanahan simply stated the 49ers were going to be keeping him on their roster this season rather than trading him to his hometown Chicago Bears, the possibility of a holdout looms. Gould is one of the best kickers in the league. While, a player at his position holding out would be unprecedented, it wouldn’t necessarily be shocking.
Released/Lost in Free Agency
DE Cassius Marsh – Impact 7/10
The 49ers did a pretty great job at retaining talent, with the only true impact player leaving the team being DE Cassius Marsh. Marsh was tied for second on the team with 5.5 sacks but he’s traveling north to rejoin the Seattle Seahawks after being released by the 49ers.
LB Kwon Alexander – B+ Impact 8/10
CB Jason Verrett – B Impact 6/10
RB Tevin Coleman – A Impact 9/10
LB David Mayo – C+ Impact 5/10
TE Levine Toilolo – C+ Impact 4/10
OL Wesley Johnson – C Impact 3/10
OL Ben Garland – B- Impact 6/10
P Justin Vogel – C- Impact 4/10
Much like the rest of their offseason, the 49ers made splash moves in free agency. They started hot by inking linebacker Kwon Alexander to a long-term deal. While Alexander does bring injury risk, he is a dynamic, sideline-to-sideline linebacker who will excel behind the elite defensive line in San Francisco.
Jason Verrett is another interesting signing. He is the definition of boom-or-bust. Verrett has played exceptional during his career, but has missed the majority of his career to injuries. If healthy, he can make the 49ers’ secondary lethal, especially given the push rushers on the team.
Tevin Coleman was a somewhat surprising signing given that the team gave Jerick McKinnon big money last offseason. Coleman is an ideal fit and fits well in a 1-2 punch with McKinnon, and I’d expect him to have a similar role to the one he had with the Falcons.
One under-the-radar signing I really liked was Levine Toilolo. For his entire career, Toilolo has been an all-around tight end who, while not excelling in any area, has been solid in every aspect of the position. The three Atlanta Falcons that Kyle Shanahan previously coached (Coleman, Toilolo, and Garland) should all be able to find ways to contribute to this 49ers team.
49ers get: DE Dee Ford – A+ Impact 10/10
Chiefs get: 2020 second-round pick
This was hands down the best move the 49ers made all offseason (besides selecting Nick Bosa, but more on him later). Dee Ford is one of the best pass rushers in football, and will see plenty of one-on-one situations with the 49ers. Obviously trading a second-round pick is risky, but the 49ers are a much improved team and that pick will be a mid or late round pick.
What makes this trade even better is the contract Ford signed. While on paper it appears to be a five-year deal, this can essentially become a one-year deal if the 49ers choose to end their relationship with Ford early. However, I have a gut feeling they’ll want to keep an elite pass rusher opposite Nick Bosa for a long, long time.
Pick 1.2 – EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State – A+ Impact 10/10
Pick 2.36 – WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina – A- Impact 9/10
Pick 3.67 – WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor – C Impact 5/10
Pick 4.110 – P Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah – F Impact 7/10
Pick 5.148 – LB Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas – C- Impact 5/10
Pick 6.176 – TE Kaden Smith, Stanford – C Impact 5/10
Pick 6.183 – OT Justin Skule, Vanderbilt – D+ Impact 4/10
Pick 6.198 – CB Tim Harris, Virginia – B- Impact 7/10
To put it simply, I was not a huge fan of the 49ers draft. However, I didn’t hate it either.
Obviously Nick Bosa is a slam dunk pick at #2 overall, and is a clear cut favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year if he can stay healthy. It’s easy to see him evolve into a 12-14 sack player in 2-3 years, and could spend his peak years as the best pass rusher in the league.
Deebo Samuel in the second round was an obvious selection. With the 49ers’ need at the position, it was obvious they would address it early. Kyle Shanahan coached Samuel during the Senior Bowl, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of Samuel unless he fell into the perfect system, he did just that landing in San Francisco. With George Kittle and Samuel on board, the 49ers’ have their young duo of pass catchers locked and loaded.
Round Three is where everything gets out of whack for the 49ers. Jalen Hurd is a fun player, but one who needs a ton of development. The ceiling is very high for him, but the third round was a bit early, especially with so many solid starters still on the board. Hurd can be a utility/flex type of player in Shanahan’s scheme, but again, just too early of a pick.
Then, a punter. In the fourth round. Really John Lynch? Even though Wishnowsky was one of the best college punters of the past decade, the fourth round is too early to ever take someone who will only contribute by kicking balls. Unless he can put the ball on the 1-yard line 100% of the time, this was another player who was drafted far too early by the 49ers’ front office.
I did like the Dre Greenlaw pick in the fourth round. He can be a top backup/reliable starter for the 49ers immediately. He is quick with both his feet and at reading the offense. While he is undersized at 6-feet, 230 pounds, that isn’t a huge concern in the modern day NFL. Greenlaw also showed flashes at being a solid passing down linebacker.
Kaden Smith out of Stanford, while not an elite prospect, is the perfect competent for George Kittle. Kittle is an elite run blocker, and Smith is aggressive and fundamental as a blocker. As receivers, while Kittle can work across the field and out of the slot, Smith is an exceptional receiver up the seams. The duo can be highly productive in a two-TE formation. Which, I expect the 49ers to use that a ton this year.
When you look for a late round offensive lineman, a four-year starter is usually a good route. Justin Skule was just that for Vanderbilt, and should be competing for a backup job when training camp starts. Whether or not he evolves into a starter is in question, but drafting an experienced backup in the sixth is always solid.
Their final pick, Tim Harris out of Virginia, is my favorite of their draft (besides Bosa). Harris showed in his time at Virginia that he has all the tools, size, and mentality to be a starting corner in the NFL. However, what makes him a seventh rounder is his injury history. In both 2015 and 2016 his season was ended short due to injury, which made NFL teams cautious. However, if he can stay healthy, Harris can develop into a starter at a position of need for the 49ers.
The 49ers are arguably the most improved team going into 2019. They made a handful of big moves in critical positions and they rounded out their depth incredibly well. Playing in the NFC West will be tough. The Rams are an elite team, the Seahawks always find a way to be tough, and who knows if the experiment in Arizona translates to an elite offense? While the team made huge moves in every way this offseason, nothing is bigger than the health of Jimmy Garoppolo. Coming off a torn ACL, their franchise QB will be the indicator of how good this team can be. He has shown a ton of flashes and potential but needs to take a jump in his second season as the 49ers’ starter.