San Francisco 49ers checklist of offseason wants
With less than two weeks to the opening of NFL Free Agency, the 49ers’ list of offseason needs was re-added and a recalibration of their priorities was forced. Kicker Robbie Gould will explore the free agent market and sign with another team.
Kicker has always been at least a stumbling block as Gould was set to become an unrestricted free agent, but that raises the priority list for San Francisco this offseason.
Free agency, set to open with the March 13 negotiation period, will help tick some of those boxes, but the team likely won’t have enough salary caps to make much of an impact in this market. They also have 10 picks in the NFL draft. Some of those needs are eliminated in the free hand, so let’s go back and then recalibrate.
Here’s where things stand towards opening up free agency:
The longer Brock Purdy’s surgery lasts, the more the 49ers will need to find a third quarterback. Injuries were too big a problem at the field’s most important position for San Francisco to go conservative to add a third QB. That third signal caller might have to be the backup while Purdy isn’t there. Ideally, every quarterback who signs on will start as a QB3, but the 49ers are in a place where that part of the depth chart has outsize importance, as that player may need to start games for them.
It feels silly to move kickers so high on the priority list, but with the news that Robbie Gould intends to play elsewhere next year, it becomes one of the most gaping holes on San Francisco’s roster. Kicker is an important position for the 49ers because head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t overly aggressive on fourth downs and in the red zone. They meet up with kickers at the combine, so it’s on the table that they design one. There could also be a camp match with a rookie and a couple of experienced kickers.
The defensive front drives a very good 49ers defense. With multiple players encountering free hands, San Francisco has to diligently add depth here. Javon Kinlaw may or may not be an entry-level defensive tackle, and Drake Jackson may or may not be willing to take on a bigger role opposite Nick Bosa. Even if these two players are willing to step in as starters, the depth for the San Francisco line is a ton. They need to bring resources here via design and free agency to ensure this unit is still one of the team’s best.
It’s not a slam dunk that Mike McGlinchey gives free rein to with the right tackle. In that case, the 49ers could turn to an internal candidate like Colton McKivitz to replace him. Leaving McKivitz the job without competition isn’t necessarily a good idea, however. They either need to re-sign McGlinchey, sign a surefire replacement, or add some competition via the free hand and draft to ensure they shore up a key position on the offensive front.
Whether it’s Jimmie Ward, Tashaun Gipson, an outside free agent, or a draft pick, the 49ers need a starting point. Talanoa Hufanga and George Odum are the only safeties sure to return. Giving defensive coordinator Steve Wilks a versatile pawn in the back end of secondary will be important, regardless of where they’re from.
Jake Brendel is a free agent and has played well enough to earn another chance to be the starter for the 49ers. Perhaps they don’t want to leave the long-term job at the start center to him. It’s panic time on offense if they can’t re-sign Brendel, but even if they do, some internal competition could help in the long run.