If you follow the San Francisco 49ers closely, you already know that the media and Twitter-verse go crazy over just about every free agent or potential trade they think John Lynch and Co. should go for in the offseason.
So far this year, it’s included Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Earl Thomas, Demarcus Lawrence, Jalen Ramsey, and Nick Foles, just to know a few. Obviously, the team can’t get all these players, but this offseason, with a healthy Jimmy G and healthy Jerrick McKinnon due back in 2019, it feels like San Fran may be one draft pick and one big free agent away from something really special. There are plenty of big names out there, but San Francisco should really have a list of about three or four top targets.
Jalen Ramsey (CB, JAX)
Jalen Ramsey, the All-Pro cornerback for Jacksonville, has been rumored to be on the trade block for a while now. With Tom Coughlin in a prominent role, guys like Ramsey who speaks their minds and can be brash and blunt, don’t always last long.
Pairing Ramsey with Richard Sherman to lock up the outsides would be a beautiful thing for San Francisco in 2019, as the team struggled heavily at defending the pass last year. A First Team All-Pro in 2017, Ramsey struggled at times this season but was still one of the best corners in the game. Pairing Ramsey with a top flight rookie pass rusher would be devastating for opposing offenses, and would immediately bolster a historically bad defense from a season ago.
Dee Ford (DE, KC)
Dee Ford had a breakout year for a bad Kansas City defense last season, ending up with 13 sacks this on the year. Although he is not the top pass rusher in the free agent class, he may be the most realistic option, as most sources point towards Demarcus Lawrence getting resigned by Dallas.
Ford would be a great addition to lineup alongside DeForest Buckner on the line and would free the Niners up to make some moves in the draft. If they address their pass rushing void, they may be able to get a solid haul from a desperate QB or DE needy team who wants to move up to the second pick. That would open up the door for a multitude of possibilities, including a trade for someone who may end up on this list…
Earl Thomas (S, SEA)
Earl Thomas is a guy that every single team in the league would love to get their hands on, and the 49ers just might have an advantage with his former teammate Sherman, and an opportunity for revenge against the team who wronged him twice a year.
He’s forced 44 turnovers in his career, and delivers huge hits, instilling fear in receivers and tight ends. Of course, the reservation with Thomas is he is coming off a devastating injury that kept him on the sideline for the majority of 2018.
Will he be able to come back strong in 2019? Sherman was able to, and playing the safety position should allow him to remain successful, even if he is not quite where he once was. Thomas would bring a toughness and attitude to San Francisco they haven’t had since Dashon Goldson and the talent and skill that the 49ers haven’t had on the defensive side of the ball since NaVorro Bowman.
Antonio Brown (WR, PIT)
Picture this: Jimmy Garoppolo lines up in the shotgun, Matt Breida to the left of him and McKinnon to the right, with George Kittle at tight end, Dante Pettis in the slot, the burner Marquis Goodwin outside, and opposite him? The NFL’s best wide receiver for years, Antonio Brown. While his numbers were a tick down this season, he was competing for targets with Juju Smith Schuster and still put up a monster season.
Everyone knows what value he would bring, and although many fans would be apprehensive about acquiring him due to his perceived bad attitude, he lasted eight years in a Steelers organization that has had some turmoil within the locker room at times. Brown would be the best receiver the 49ers have had since Terrell Owens and would turn the offense into one of the scariest in the league next year.
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have proven they are willing to take risks and make splash moves through their first couple years in the league. Sit tight, Niner fans; it should be a fun ride.