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2016 San Francisco 49ers Offseason Positional Needs

Jake Arthur
Between a rash of injuries, retirements and coaching changes, the San Francisco 49ers find themselves needing to scrape back together to re-join relevancy. | Photo Credit:

San Francisco 49ers Team Needs


After the most bizarre offseason in recent memory, the San Francisco 49ers hit a hard floor in the 2016 season, less than three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance.

After parting ways with single-year head coach Jim Tomsula, the 49ers brought big fish Chip Kelly to the Bay Area to replace him. Kelly won't have the amount of personnel control that he had with the Philadelphia Eagles, but his system has certain requirements that are bound to shake up the roster one way or another.

With that being said, here are the 49ers' most basic team needs as we sit here before the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine and beginning of free agency.


1. Offensive Line

Between offensive linemen Marcus Martin (842 snaps, -45.6 grade), Erik Pears (1,037 snaps, -30.7 grade), Jordan Devey (397 snaps, -16.1 grade), Daniel Kilgore (273 snaps, -9.5 grade) and Trenton Brown (189 snaps, -3.3 grade), they combined for an unbelievable -105.2 grade according to Pro Football Focus on an average of 547.6 snaps.

The offense as a whole was tied for second most allowed sacks in the league (53) as well as 94 total hits on their quarterbacks, making it incredibly difficult for any offense to function well.

Left tackle Joe Staley is a mainstay on the line, but San Francisco's next best lineman, left guard Alex Boone, is set to become a free agent next month. Right tackle Anthony Davis, who retired last offseason, has said that he intends to return to the team, but the 49ers will need to decide their stance on the move.


2. Defensive Front Seven Depth

Starting defensive/nose tackle Ian Williams is an unrestricted free agent, and linebackers Michael Wilhoite, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier and Gerald Hodges had their fair share of struggles throughout the year. Tony Jerod-Eddie, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Wilhoite are all also restricted free agents, so their futures in San Francisco are a toss-up. Put that altogether, and you get a lot of uncertainty when it comes to personnel and on-field performance.

Aaron Lynch is a budding star, but he is likely never going to reach what former pass rusher Aldon Smith brought to the table. That, and what now-retired defensive end Justin Smith did for the defense, is what is missed most from the 49ers front seven. Beyond just adding depth to the group, they need a linchpin five-technique and a marquee pass rusher to replace the Smiths.


3. Quarterback

If there is anything we know about Kelly, it is that he likes things his way. Even without personnel control in San Francisco like he had with the Eagles, he is still bound to be able to have some say in who is on the team, especially at quarterback.

While many think that Colin Kaepernick is a great fit in Kelly’s system, he really is not. Accuracy is an even bigger requirement of Kelly’s signal callers than mobility (see, Sam Bradford), and that is far from Kaepernick's strongest suit. Kaepernick got benched last year, and his replacement, Blaine Gabbert, played respectably well. Then there are the rumors that Kelly may look to bring Bradford with him to the 49ers in free agency.

Consider it a huge surprise if there is nothing done to the quarterback group this offseason.


Jake Arthur is the Assistant Director of NFL Content and a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. He is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @JakeArthurPFS and @Spot_Colts on Twitter, as well as on Google+ and FanCred.

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For so long this was a stable franchise. Front office, head coach, and very good players. Now, a new head coach, Chip Kelley. I am not sold on him. He needs to let his players play, whoever they may be.

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