San Francisco 49ers: Ranking the 2016 Head Coaching Vacancies
On opening day, the 49ers were the eighth-youngest roster in the NFL, with an average age of just 25.83. Among the open positions, only the Dolphins were younger. However, in the 49ers’ case, this wasn’t a carefully laid plan—it was thrust upon them by the mass retirements and departures this past offseason.
Still, with 33 draft picks over the last three years, the 49ers still have a good amount of under-30 talent on the roster, most notably NaVorro Bowman. He’ll be joined by Aaron Lynch and Eric Reid on defense; Reid and Bowman have recent Pro Bowls on their resume while Lynch likely would have gone this year had the 49ers been a little better. On offense, Torrey Smith is still young while Carlos Hyde looks to be a successful pick at running back.
However, recent swings and misses—the entire 2012 draft class comes to mind, as does the disappointing development of high picks like Tank Carradine, Corey Lemonier, Marcus Martin and Brandon Thomas—doesn’t leave the 49ers in a fantastic position.
Again, it’s the Eagles who have the most under-30 talent among the teams looking for a new coach; the defense alone would probably put them in first with Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Mychal Kendricks, Brandon Graham and Malcom Jenkins all on the roster. They’ve also got Ryan Matthews and DeMarco Murray at running back—Murray’s overpaid but still talented—as well as Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson on the offensive line. That’s plenty of building blocks for the next coach to work with.
Tampa Bay and Tennessee are right behind them, thanks to the high number of high draft picks they’ve had over
the past few years, even ignoring their first-round quarterbacks. Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David are going to be good for a long time in Tampa Bay, while the Titans have Jurrell Casey set to disrupt quarterbacks for the next decade. They’ve drafted better than the 49ers in recent years, and have the talent to show for it.
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Miami has an average level of young talent comparable to the 49ers; Reshad Jones is a great safety while players like Jordan Cameron and Jarvis Landry give Ryan Tannehill someone to throw to. They’ll need their draft picks to continue to play well, considering how much of the salary cap Ndamukong Suh takes up from here on out.
The Giants do not have a lot of young talent—their defense, especially, is either old, underwhelming or both. Odell Beckham is a great building block, and Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are pieces the 49ers would live to have on the offensive line, but this isn’t a roster that’s set for the next five years.
The Browns come in dead last. They only have three players under 30 who you could even argue could form the basis of a competitive team in a few years—Joel Bitonio, Joe Haden and Barkevious Mingo. It’s a roster that pretty much needs to be gutted and started from scratch.
Verdict: Below Average
Next: How Does Trent Baalke Measure Up?