I think the consensus for 49er fans is that the main need in this offseason is for the team to acquire a pass rusher; most everyone assumes that will be taken care of with the 2nd overall pick, considering the talent available in this draft class. However, that is far from the only position that needs to be addressed this year. Let’s go over what the 49ers’ secondary needs are for 2019…
As has been the case for far too long, the 49ers still do not have a bonafide number one receiver heading into next season. Whether the team whiffs on draft picks (Lookin’ at you, AJ Jenkins) or just never can unlock a guy’s full potential (Still miss you Crabtree), not since Terell Owens have the 49ers had a guy that scared opposing teams. While there are some talented receivers in this year’s draft class that should be available in the 2nd round, rookie receivers often need a grace period to really come into their own. Yes, there are studs like Julio Jones or OBJ who come in and make an immediate impact, but more often than not, receiver’s careers take some time to really take off, as I believe will be the case with Dante Pettis, who looked promising in his rookie season but needs more time to develop. I believe Golden Tate would be a great addition via free agency if we can’t get the biggest fish in the pond with Antonio Brown looking to get out of Pittsburgh.
Last year, although the pass rush was non-existent, our secondary may have been the most frustrating, disappointing aspect of the team to me. I had anticipated before the season that we would have success, with the new addition of Richard Sherman, and promising seasons in 2017 from Ahkello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert. However, they both regressed, and opposing offenses had no trouble passing up and down the field all year. The 49ers ended up on the wrong side of NFL history by intercepting 2 passes all year, including zero by a cornerback. We need a ball hawk, someone who can create turnovers and change a game with a single play. If we can add that aspect to our defense, we will be scary on both sides of the ball.
Luckily, Fred Warner was a diamond in the rough for us and should be a quality starter in 2019. However, we need someone to take Ruben Foster’s place, and ideally a guy who can come in and help rush the passer, while also having some pass coverage ability. Our defense excelled against the run late in the season, with Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and Deforest Buckner clogging up the line, but we were beat on play-action and pass plays all year. Nabbing a guy like we used to have in Takeo Spikes, or even having higher aspirations and hoping for a Patrick Willis type skillset, would be huge in helping shore up our pass defense.
If we can manage to address all these positions, San Francisco will be one of the top teams in the league next year. Personally, I would love to see us at least add a receiver who can be a target for Garoppolo, freeing up Kittle to continue to dominate. If we don’t, teams will continue to play like Denver did in the second half of that game against us, where they just say they won’t let George beat them by doubling or even triple teaming him. Adding a receiver will make that just about impossible for defenses to do next season.