The 49ers are not the team with depth that they used to be and their starting lineup has some holes that are very concerning after just three weeks of play.
This season’s lineup is in the books and there isn’t much you could do at this stage of the season.
We will go over what can be done now or in 2016 to shore up those holes and become more well rounded.
DRAFT, DEVELOP, or FREE AGENCY.
Photo courtesy of NYCMarines
Develop or draft.
Colin has a so-so season this year and will need to improve. He spent most of the offseason working on mechanics and game study.
Everyone wants to talk about the four interception, sub 50% completion, 17.6 Quarterback Rating performance against the league’s top defense, the Arizona Cardinals. However, every player will have a bad game and this will not be the last bad game you will see from him even if he goes on to win enough for a playoff berth.
Take a look at the games he has played previously. 17/26 performance at Minnesota with 206 all purpose yards. These aren’t awe-striking numbers, but he was 50% on 3rd down conversion plays with the ball in his hands.
In his next game, he goes 33/46 with 335 yards and two touchdowns. Every writer will tell you that it was with the game out of hand, but that makes no difference as every team should look to finish strong and Kaepernick was able to play well against a defense where Shazier was making plays for the Steelers defense. Not to mention, on 3rd/4th down pass attempts, Kaepernick converted on 56% of those throws.
It appears that a lot of his errors happen on plays where he is hurried by pass rushers and he his numbers would likely increase if he is given two seconds longer to throw.
In addition, the simple wide receiver routes have been easily guarded and results in extra time needed to make a better read.
We could always look to give Colin some legitimate competition, but that would require a high draft pick which I’m not ready to say we will get one.
But this happens to be the deepest quarterback draft class in years, and there are some can’t miss quarterbacks.
Let’s shut the door on a few prospects
Any first round quarterback: Jared Goff, Connor Cook. Gunner Kiel is too turnover prone. Kevin Hogan is a project player who leans more towards the inconsistent side. Trevone Boykin does not have the velocity in his throw needed to beat NFL secondaries. Plus, he’s basically a lesser version of Colin Kaepernick.
I like guys like Dak Prescott. Great vision on the field. He welcomes pressure and dares you to try and sack him. Before you could hit him, the ball is either out of his hand, or he is 3 yards downfield. Good zip on the ball and has the ability to throw to one on one coverages with defenders a half stride away from the receiver. He’s currently projected at 4th round, but that number will rise. He would be a possible pick at 3rd round.
Overall, QB is not a position I want to spend 1st or 2nd day picks on, because there are more glaring needs and I don’t feel any one of the quarterbacks available can survive the offensive line that San Francisco has on the right side.
Free Agency, Develop, Draft
In addition,The amount of Right Tackles and Guards coming out next year for free agency eligibility is pretty low in quality and the cream of the crop may just re-sign with their teams. Look for Russell Okung, Andre Smith, Marshal Yanda and Joe Barksdale. Importantly, keep an eye out on contract negotiations with Alex Boone and the possibility of the return of Anthony Davis.
While the starting lineup Marcus Martin, Jordan Devey, and Erik Pears have no upside and have been the worst trio in the league, the backups appear to have talents that are still being cultivated to be weapons.
Brandon Thomas, Andrew Tiller, and Trenton Brown have shown flashes of brilliance.
Brandon Thomas has versatility as he’s played guard and tackle and was a first team all-ACC selection.
Trent Brown has posted positive Pro Football Focus scores in exhibition games and his large 355 pound body makes him an excellent guard. However, San Francisco appears to be grooming him to become a right tackle.
This is where I want to spend my round 1 and 2 picks especially since the talented lineman go early.
Laremy Tunsil at Ole Miss has long been regarded as the best lineman in college. He can guard well versus fast rushers and is very versatile. Athletic and can block downfield and gives his quarterback at least 3-4 seconds versus his opponent if he’s beat. Majority of the time, he stonewalls his opponent. He is projected in the first round. He could be available anywhere we pick.
Jack Conklin at Michigan State may be a major reason why Connor Cook is putting up great numbers as this guy is solid in pass protection. He matched up well versus Shawn Oakman at Baylor.
Max Tuerk, C at USC, is the top center and would be the only center that is worthy of a first round grade. He is also versatil as he can play tackle and guard, but only if he bulks up.
Develop and Draft
Shareece Wright is a former starter and originally projected to be a starter, but he gets supplanted by a group of three second year cornerbacks in Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker, and Keith Reaser. Considering that Trent Baalke refused to go after the top cornerbacks in the draft, these guys need to get the utmost attention of the coaching staff. They’ve been beat by prolific cornerbacks recently in Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald. They need to find their edge soon.
Here’s the problem. I see the offensive line as the most glaring need, but how do you pass up on Vernon Hargreaves III if he is available wherever you pick. You don’t! I don’t care how invested in the Acker, Johnson, and Reaser Trent Baalke may be. Don’t deny this talent.
There are only six startworthy corners so far. Hargreaves, Jalen Ramsey, Tre’Davious White, Kendall Fuller, Cameron Sutton,Zach Sanchez. That means you will have to grab one in the second round at the latest. First, draft a lineman and if there are no more startworthy lineman, go after a corner especially since the free agent class is thin especially if Prince Amukamura, Morris Claiborne and Leon Hall get resigned.
Develop and Draft.
We didn’t use all those draft picks for nothing. Aaron Lynch has a sack so far. Ahmad Brooks does not. Ahmad will likely be done after this year and we will need to develop Corey Lemonier or Eli Harold. Both are capable and I’d draft them in the early rounds of this year’s draft.
But, who could pass up on A’Shawn Robinson and Shawn Oakman. I’ll gladly take either in 2nd or 3rd round. There are 8 startworthy OLBs that could be available well into day 2 of the draft. I am sure we will have enough compensatory picks to use one of them on an OLB.
What can we do now?
We can start to get our backups rotated in to get them more experience and start to develop advanced skills.
As fans, we could support the hell out of our current team. This team has the tools to be a contender if they can get certain personnel up to speed.