The free agency period is back to being exciting for 49ers fans. They’ve secured a franchise quarterback for the next five years, they’ve added weapons for Shanahan’s offense, and stole away an All-Pro talent from a divisional rival.
Everything is coming up San Francisco as the team’s stock continues to climb upwards. However, there’s still much the 49ers need to address with the Draft a month away.
From the new signings to the uncertainty with positional fits. From the positions that weren’t accounted for during free agency to players with unknown futures, it’s important that the regime speaks on these issues.
Reuben Foster’s Future
Arguably the most unfortunate developments happening is with rookie standout, Reuben Foster. The inside linebacker may find his time in the Bay Area to be a short one if he doesn’t change his off-field actions.
There’s no doubt that the next mistake he makes will be his last in San Francisco. As 49ers CEO, Jed York says,
We’d love Reuben to be on this team. And we’d love him to participate for us, but if he’s not doing things off the field that allow us to be able to rely on him – or he’s doing something that we’re not comfortable with off the field and it’s proven that’s what’s going on — I think (Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch) have said then you’re just going to have to move on.
It’s unsure of what the organization is going to do to make sure that he won’t get into any more trouble. But, it looks as if they’re having Foster learn to behave on his own rather than coddle him.
It’s refreshing that they have a three-strikes rule rather than giving him multiple passes like what the previous regime did for Aldon Smith.
Where is the team’s number one receiver?
Free agency featured a plethora of top receivers for the 49ers to sign.
- Jarvis Landry pulled a reverse Lebron and took his talents from South Beach to Cleveland.
- Allen Robinson went from catching passes from Blake Bortles in Jacksonville to Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago.
- And Sammy Watkins went from one second-year quarterback in Jared Goff in Los Angeles to Kansas City with Patrick Mahomes.
Even some of the surprise roster cuts from other teams provided opportunities.
- Jordy Nelson became available after Green Bay cut him, but instead, he went to the other side of the Bay with the Raiders.
- Allen Hurns got cut by the Jaguars and is now with America’s Team.
- And Michael Crabtree could’ve had a reunion with the 49ers, but he’s with the Super Bowl XLVII opponent in Baltimore now.
It looks as though with the inactivity from San Francisco in getting a big name receiver, that they will instead look to the Draft for this answer.
It’s unlikely that the team will go after trading for Odell Beckham Jr. with the ridiculous asking price that the Giants have on him.
What are the 49ers going to do with the Secondary situation?
The 49ers have three talented players at the safety positions. However, one of them is going to need to stay on the sidelines.
Jaquiski Tartt is the most talented out of them and is likely going to be the strong safety. Meaning, it’s between Jimmie Ward and Adrian Colbert to be the team’s “eraser.”
Ward is versatile in his own right as he’s played at everything spot in the secondary during his career. Unfortunately, the cornerback positions aren’t wide open. The signing of Richard Sherman gives the team their number one cornerback. K’Waun Williams has secured the nickel corner spot for the next few years. As for the final cornerback position, Ahkello Witherspoon looks to have this locked down.
The team would love to have all of these talented players on the field at once. However, it looks as if one of these players might be on their way out of the starting lineup.
Is Jerick McKinnon worth his contract?
One of the most head-scratching decisions during free agency was the contract the 49ers gave to McKinnon. He was awarded a four-year, $30 million contract with $15.7 million guaranteed.
This is for a running back that’s never started a 16-game season nor has he rushed for more than 600 yards in a season. Not to mention, he’s averaged an underwhelming 3.6 yards per carry over the last two seasons.
However, Kyle Shanahan sees passed this.
We’re excited to have him. We think he’s going to be a very good running back for us.
People talk about him being a third down back — which he is, he’s a very good third down back, and we plan on using him that way — I think he’s a good first and second down back too… The homework we did on Jerick and type of guy he is, the type of talent you see on tape from his NFL days back to college, we’re very excited about the person and player we’ve got.
There’s no doubt that Shanahan will find ways to show why McKinnon is worth this contract.
What’s the plan for the offensive guard positions?
The starting offensive line is set for the most part. With Joe Staley and Trent Brown manning the left and right tackle spots, respectively, and new center Weston Richburg signed to the team, the offensive line is almost set up for Jimmy Garoppolo to have success.
The only areas that remain in question are the guard spots. There’s going to be a great deal of competition over these positions.
The likely candidates to take over are:
- Former first-rounder, Joshua Garnett who missed all of last season after having knee surgery. He should be a front-runner after having lost 25 pounds.
- Zane Beadles, who spent much of last season as a starter at both the left and right guard positions.
- Laken Tomlinson, another former first-rounder that has one year of experience playing under Shanahan under his belt. He also played both guard positions.
- And yet another former first-rounder in Jonathan Cooper, who is now on his fourth team in three years.
It’s expected that the initial starting guards will be Cooper and Tomlinson moving forward. However, there’s still some time before the competition begins in training camp.