Cleat Geeks

On The Clock: San Francisco 49ers 2016 Offseason Preview

In his “On the Clock” series, NFL analyst Brett Casella (@NFL_iQ on Twitter) will take an in-depth look at all 20 teams that failed to make the playoffs as they head into the 2016 offseason. He will conduct a thorough examination of each roster and make recommendations on whom to cut and re-sign, as well as which players to target through free agency and the draft.

This article will focus on the San Francisco 49ers.

2015 Record: 5-11
Draft Pick: #7

Season Summary

The San Francisco 49ers 2015 offseason was the worst in recent memory, and maybe the worst in NFL history. In one offseason, San Francisco lost Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Justin Smith, Anthony Davis, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, and Chris Culliver. Oh, and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Taking all of these key losses into account, five wins was nothing short of an accomplishment.NavorroBowman

The biggest story of the season was Colin Kaepernick’s, whose play deteriorated to the point where he was actually benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Head coach Jim Tomsula was fired after one season, which was expected by most people when he was originally hired. Maybe the lone bright spot in a dismal year was NaVorro Bowman, who came back from his gruesome knee injury to have a spectacular season.


Re-Signings & Cuts

The 49ers have already accomplished one of their biggest priorities this offseason; convincing OT Anthony Davis to come out of retirement. Davis had abruptly retired in the 2015 purge, but said that he would be back in a year or two; he just needed to allow time for his brain and body to recover. On Fiday, Davis applied for restatement in the NFL.

Players the 49ers should look to re-sign include kicker Phil Dawson, RB Shaun Draughn, and WR Anquan Boldin. Receivers are already scarce in San Francisco, and Boldin is their only reliable target. His veteran presence doesn’t hurt, either.

Potential breakups include G Alex Boone through free agency, and LB Ahmad Brooks, who will save $6 million if released.


Free Agency Needs

As of now, the 49ers have $55.5 million in cap space; the sixth most in the league. If Colin Kaepernick ends up getting traded, that number would increase to $64M. I don’t expect the 49ers to be shy in spending it.

One area they could look to improve is their receiving core, especially if they plan to draft a quarterback. Possible free agent targets could include Travis Benjamin, a deep threat who can also move the chains. Rishard Matthews, Rueben Randle, and division rival Jermaine Kearse are also names to keep an eye on. It will be interesting to see what happens in Cincinnati with wide outs Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. If one (or both) hits the market, the 49ers may consider them as well.

CarlosHydeCarlos Hyde is a good, young running back, but he missed most of last season with a broken foot. They may look to bring in another low-cost guy f0r insurance this year. Potential targets include Alfred Morris, Bilal Powell, and James Starks, who is an underrated third down back.

On the defensive side of the ball, they have the cap space to sign a big-name defensive lineman such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Malik Jackson, or Olivier Vernon. They could also look to the secondary, potentially for a safety to pair with Eric Reid. Eric Weddle, Tashaun Gipson, and George Iloka all come to mind. They may also look to pursue cornerbacks such as Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Sean Smith, and Casey Hayward.

Potential Draft Picks

I fully expect the 49ers to take a quarterback in the first round, and I expect it to be Jared Goff. My sense tells me Carson Wentz is destined for the Browns at the #2 spot, and Goff could fall to the 49ers. The last time San Francisco passed on a local Cal product, it was Aaron Rodgers.jared-goff-aaron-rodgers-usatsi

A second-round pick I like for them is TE Hunter Henry out of Arkansas. He is the top tight end talent in this class, and could develop into one of Goff’s favorite targets over the years. Cody Whitehair is another name to keep an eye on. This Kansas State product could be a day-one start at center or guard in San Francisco.

Talented wide receivers will still be available in the third round such as Rashard Higgins, Pharoh Cooper, and Leonte Carroo.

Have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about the article? Leave a comment below.

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  1. Pingback: On The Clock: Full 20-Team Directory – Cleat Geeks

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