The football postseason has finally come to end. The 49ers finally have their coach. Now the REAL season begins: The Off-Season! The 49ers look to have around $100 million in salary cap space to fix their issues, but they have a ton of issues. This is going to be a long rebuild. If the 49ers spend and draft wisely, they could shorten that time frame. Let’s take a look at each position of need on offense, and possible fits via free agency.
Quarterback: Well, the 49ers don’t have one. Really! There won’t be one on the roster in less than a month. The draft is an obvious place to fix this long term, but the 49ers will need someone else to start games for the immediate future.
1. Kirk Cousins - Kyle Shanahan would love to have the quarterback that his father drafted in 2012. The issue is availability and price. The Redskins seem like they will designate the exclusive franchise tag on him. That would cost the 49ers 2 first round selections, plus a contract the would cost over $20 million per year. That is just not a smart play. If the 49ers were one quarterback away from the Super Bowl, I would consider making that deal. Obviously, they are not.
2. Matt Schaub - He will be 36, and hasn’t had a good season in 4 years. But, he is familiar with Shanahan’s offense, and would come relatively cheap. This is an option of convenience and would only be a bridge quarterback.
3. Mike Glennon - He is fits the profile that Shanahan likes in his offense. He has a big arm and has starting experience. He’s also only 27 and would not command a huge contract. Long term, he would seem to be nothing more than another bridge quarterback.
The 49ers could look to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. He has the skill set to be a very good quarterback for the 49ers. But it will all depend on the asking price. Don’t expect the Patriots to give him away, as there will be a number of suitors for this young but untested quarterback. Another name to keep an eye on is AJ McCarron. He looked very good in spot duty for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015, and would cost much less in a trade,
Running Back: The 49ers have their starter in Carlos Hyde. The key is to keep him healthy. Shanahan’s offense utilizes the 2 back system better than anyone. However, the pickings are slim in free agency. Sure, they could add a Jacquizz Rodgers or a Dexter McCluster, but the 49ers would be best served to grab a running back in the draft. Preferably one with speed to compliment Hyde.
Fullback: The 49ers did not need a fullback in Chip Kelly’s offense. They will in Shanahan’s.
1. Patrick DiMarco - If ever there was a perfect fit in free agency, this is it. He just played for Shanahan in Atlanta, he’s young, and he wouldn’t break the bank. He is a “must” target when free agency opens.
Wide Receiver: Other than quarterback, no other position is as void of talent as this group. This position needs to be address early and often. Torrey Smith has been a free agent bust, but that is not all his fault. He could produce some very solid numbers in this offense. Beyond that, it’s filled with training camp type players.
1. Alshon Jeffery - The biggest free agent fish at wide receiver. The 49ers could have drafted him in 2012, but took AJ Jenkins instead. He would instantly bring a playmaker and credibility to this unit. He has had some injury issues and a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. There is risk in signing him, and he will cost a lot, but the upside might be too much to pass up.
2. Jeremy Kerley - Considering he was signed off the free agent scrap heap, Kerley did an admirable job with the 49ers last season. If he can be signed to a modest deal, he would be a perfect 3rd receiver.
Tight End: With the recent extensions of Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek, this is not a high priority for the 49ers this offseason.
Offensive Line: The 49ers seem fairly set on the offensive line next year. The 49ers could use some depth at the tackle spots, and could look to replace Zane Beadles or Daniel Kilgore. Ideally, you draft and develop these type of guys.
1. Kevin Zeitler - He won’t come cheap, and you hate to overpay for an offensive guard, but the 26 year old from Cincinnati would instantly make the offensive line as good as it’s been since 2013. He plays with a nasty streak when he run blocks and is very solid in pass protection. He has to be a priority target for the 49ers.
2. Chris Chester - Like Matt Schaub, this would be another signing of convenience. He is 34, so this is not a long term option. But he is familiar with Shanahan and would provide depth. He should also come with a smaller price tag.
2. Mike Remmers - He is only 28 and has starting experience. He is more of a 3rd tackle, and would be a nice option if Joe Staley or Trent Brown were to suffer an injury.