The 49ers finished last year with a record of 6-10. The good news is, when starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo played, they went 3-1. Over the course of last season they suffered several injuries, so moving forward, there’s a good probability there will be less frequent injuries this year, which leads me to believe there is a good likelihood that the 49ers improve upon last year’s campaign.
Going into the off-season, the 49ers were in pretty decent shape, as they had the third overall choice, and 18 million dollars in cap space. I believe GM John Lynch did a great job this off-season, let’s take a look at the draft and free agent signings.
The 49ers began with a contingency plan on account of Jimmy G’s durability issues, by drafting Trey Lance in the 1st round 3rd overall. He is 6’4, 224 lbs, out of ND State and was sidelined in 2020 but has an impressive 2019 season on his resume. Lance recorded 28 tds, almost 67% completion rate and he has proficient speed as he unofficially recorded some 40 times in the 4.5 range. He has smarts, size, and athleticism. It’s most likely just a matter of when they move on from Jimmy G, not if. Looking back into Shanahan’s history, he has had success getting young athletic QB’s to succeed (He was OC RGIII’s rookie season at Washington).
Next, Lynch would make a trade with the Raiders, receiving picks 48, and 121, and sending picks 43, and 230. He made this move to draft interior OL Aaron Banks in the 2nd round, 48th overall. I am a true believer that the game of football is won in the trenches and I love this pick. Aaron Banks is a monster of a man standing at 6’5, 338 lbs. The 49ers love to run and he will definitely help open up holes up the middle.
Lynch would again make another move jockeying for better position as he traded away picks 117 and 121 to the Rams to receive pick 88. In round 3 with the 88th overall pick, they take Trey Sermon RB. This is also another great pick in my opinion because in addition to Mostert’s health concerns, both Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon departed in free agency. He had 3 years at Oklahoma and 1 at Ohio state. He had a couple of monster games one being in Ohio State’s Big 10 Championship game where he ran for 331 yards and 2 TDs. Over the course of his college career he averaged 6.5 yards a carry. He only ran a 4.5 40 which isn’t great for a RB, but he has shown on tape that he can take it 70 yards to the house.
With the 102nd pick in the 3rd round, the 49ers selected Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan. This is a strategic pick, who some people also consider a bargain. A bargain due to the fact that Thomas opted out of his senior year for covid, and strategic from a front office perspective due to the fact that starters Verret and Willams, are on 1 year deals. Very fast with a 4.37 40 time, and known for his press man coverage and ball hawk skills. The 49ers will need to develop and refine his technique but there is great potential for him to be a diamond in the rough here. He has struggled through the pre-season, but because there is depth ahead of him, he has plenty of time to be coached up.
In the 5th Round with the 155th pick the 49ers took Jaylon Moore, OT Western Michigan. Dominant 3 year starter at LT, extremely successful, standing at 6’4 311 lbs has a ton of athleticism. Don’t be surprised if he sees a starting role or at least some playing time at guard this year!
The 49ers had another 5th round selection, taking Deommodore Lenoir at pick 172. CB out of Oregon with an exceptional football IQ. 5’10, 199 lbs, good build and great tenacity. Has decent speed at a 4.45 40 time. He has been having a great summer so far and has been very impressive. With the starters not having long term deals he could play a significant role moving forward and he will most likely see some time in the nickel as well as on special teams.
Also in the 5th round, Talanoa Hufanga S, USC, was taken with the 180th pick. Standing at 6’1, 215 lbs, he has been very impressive this summer so far. Kyle Shanahan said that he has put himself in the position to possibly be the starter with some injuries on the back-end. However, free agent acquisition Tavon Wilson has also had a really great summer. He has great play recognition, plays with a lot of energy, and he has been making all the right decisions mentally. In college he was great around the line of scrimmage so he is a natural quasi linebacker. He will have an immediate contribution on special teams as well.
With the 49ers final selection, John Lynch picked RB Elijah Mitchell, in the 6th round at pick 194 overall. A 4.3 speed demon standing at 5’10 201 lbs, he was having a good camp but suffered an adductor injury which will keep him out for multiple weeks. With free agent signing Wayne Gallman, as well as JaMycal Hasty, both having very good summers so far, there is a chance he does not make the team. This is a shame as he was proficient in both pass catching and blitz pick up as well.
Draft Grade – B+
I think it was a great draft, but I would have liked to see a wide receiver taken due to the loss of Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor, rather than a 2nd RB. Overall great job by John Lynch though.
John Lynch re-signed/ extended several players but the two most significant being – Trent Williams LT with a historic 6 year, 138 million dollar deal, and FB Kyle Juszczyk, with a 5 year, 27 million dollar deal.
In the free agent market outside of the team, the 49ers were able to sign several veterans. The two biggest deals were C Alex Mack (former Falcon), at 3 years, 14 million, and DE Samson Ebukam (former Ram), at 2 years, 12 million dollars. The Ebukam signing was important due to the loss of 3 defensive linemen but most significantly losing Solomon Thomas to the Raiders. His numbers aren’t great, but he is switching to a 4-3 and he has never been injured, so transitioning to this defense should allow him to produce more sacks.
Another signing worth mentioning is Mohamed Sanu, although he is considered old, washed up, and injury plagued, he is reunited with Shanahan and he has been having a very good summer. Considering the rest of the depth at WR consists of mostly younger or unproven players, Sanu should play a significant role as their WR3 or at worst WR4. Deebo Samuel missed 9 games and Brandon Aiyuk missed 4. So not only is he important for depth but he is a great mentor for the entire WR room.
Off-season grade – A-
Overall John Lynch did great. The 49ers should have a great bounce-back year as they get Jimmy G back as their starter, and whether he goes down again with injury, or he fizzles out, they have a 3rd overall pick stud in Trey Lance. In conclusion, if you are a 49er fan, you should be pleased with the job of the front office, and excited for the future. Shanahan is one of the best offensive gurus in the game so at the very least there will be an abundance of fun offense to watch.
Prediction – 10-7