The San Francisco 49ers made a lot of big moves last year. They landed the best head coaching candidate in Kyle Shanahan and then took the bold step of hiring John Lynch down from the commentary booth to be their general manager. Both seemed to work wonders immediately though. While not wildly competitive, the 49ers were at least fun on the field offensively and Lynch quickly set about swindling the Chicago Bears in the draft.
The biggest move the 49ers made in 2017 was to trade their second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo just before the October trade deadline. They took their time putting the ex-Patriots quarterback into the game, but once they did it became clear for everyone to see that they had their signal caller of the future.
They signed Garoppolo to a record five-year, $137.5 million deal recently, giving them the most important piece in their quest to become competitive again. However, the job is far from done. The roster is extremely light on talent around their new quarterback, but with $80.6 million in cap space there is plenty left to improve things. The question is who makes way for the new players to come in? And who may have to go in order to carve out even more cap space?
Elvis Dumervil, OLB – save $3.75 million
The 49ers have invested heavily in their defensive line in recent years. Their last three draft picks were all spent on the position, but they have come away with two very good interior players and one raw edge rusher. That was why they brought Dumervil in last season, to try and bolster their pass rush from the outside. It didn’t really work.
He registered just 6.5 sacks and 18 QB hits last season, which is not a great tally for a team’s primary edge rusher. With little behind him waiting in the wings there is a chance that the 34-year-old sticks on the team, but the 49ers are likely to invest a good chunk of their cap space in improving their edge play, and with the likes of Ziggy Ansah and DeMarcus Lawrence available there are candidates to replace him as the primary pressure player for the 49ers.
Laken Tomlinson, G – save $1.6 million
The 49ers took a shot on Tomlinson, a former first-round pick with the Detroit Lions, but he was far from impressive with his second chance. While the 49ers can’t invest assets everywhere this offseason and an average option at guard is better than none at all, don’t be surprised if he is at the very least sidelined in 2018, if not cut outright. Now that they have their quarterback the 49ers are free to pursue the best player possible in the draft, and given others need under center and enough skill position players to turn heads, there is a chance that the vicious Quinton Nelson falls into their lap with the #9 or #10 pick.
Aldrick Robinson, WR – save $2.1 million
The 49ers brought in a lot of new receivers for 2017, and to their credit some hit. Rookie Trent Taylor looks like the perfect slot receiver for Jimmy Garoppolo, and Marquise Goodwin came to life as the focal point late in the season. However, not all of them were successes. Robinson followed Kyle Shanahan over from Atlanta but caught just 19 of his 48 targets in 2017 for 260 yards. With Pierre Garcon coming back there is little space for Robinson, especially when they will be interested in some of the talent that is available at the position in free agency.
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