• Travis Rapp

HubMail: Answering Your 49ers and NFL Questions with Travis Rapp

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Now that the combine has come and gone, the rumors have picked up and fans from every team are wondering what their front offices will do next. Here at 49ersHub we try to help clear up some of those questions through our off-season feature, HubMail. Below I explore questions about both the free agency period and possible strategies in the draft from our friendly Faithful.

Realistic targets are at linebacker, LEO/edge, and safety. Earl Thomas is the most obvious target, but the 49ers front office hasn’t shown any cards on who Plan B would be. An interesting name to watch if Thomas doesn’t come to Santa Clara would be Adrian Amos. He will command less money, is younger, and is the second highest PFF graded safety in free agency. The most likely targets at defensive end to play LEO are, Trey Flowers, Preston Smith, Ziggy Ansah, and Dante Fowler Jr. If the team signs a linebacker, the top targets are Anthony Barr, C.J. Mosley, Shaq Barrett, and K.J. Wright. Don’t expect any free agent signings on the offensive side of the ball.

Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams are the only players worthy of the number two pick in this year’s draft according to the big boards, and I’m assuming your question is just in the first round. To me, if the 49ers don’t go edge, they will trade back. Any trade back in the top ten would have to end with them drafting linebacker Devin White from LSU. At 6’0” and 237 lbs, White becomes an instant starter on any team’s defense and has the highest floor of any prospect in the draft. D.K. Metcalf is not a target, as his lack of lateral speed does not fit Shanahan’s values at wide receiver. Drafting an offensive lineman again would be a surprise, but I wouldn’t rule it out if they get their targets in free agency with Joe Staley’s looming free agency following this season. If they did go offensive lineman, it would be in a trade back and targets could be Andre Dillard, Jonah Williams, and Jawaan Taylor. Again though, if it’s not an edge rusher or a defensive end to play LEO, the pick should be the linebacker named White from LSU.

If history is any indicator, the free agent signings are going to be less explosive than fans would like. The last two offseasons the front office has signed midlevel free agents who had either experience in the schemes or with the actual coaches. This off-season should be different. The team needs two or three game changers in free agency to be competitors in 2019. The depth of safeties available guarantees a signing there, and it would be really surprising if they didn’t walk away with a linebacker too. The main position of emphasis for the off-season is LEO, and a signing there is almost a given. How much money and whom they sign there with the possibility of drafting Nick Bosa is the real question. What they do in the edge rusher free agent market might give fans some clues on their target in the first round of the draft as well.

This question really depends on what the 49ers do in free agency. If they sign a Sam linebacker or edge rusher like Shaq Barrett or Dante Fowler who could man the Sam position, then the team is really looking for a pure rush specialist. That means Burns is your man. If the team signs someone like Trey Flowers to man the Leo position, then a player like Josh Allen who could play Sam on base downs and rush of the edge in the nickel and dime sets makes a lot of sense. If you are going just on pure talent and highest ceiling, I think Burns is the better pick, but I also think the team could trade back in the top ten and still get Burns instead of taking him at two. Nothing wrong with Allen, I just think Burns’ athleticism makes him the better pick for a pure edge pass rusher and he could be had at pick six or seven.


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