No. 1: Safety Earl Thomas
Despite all the injuries the 49ers have suffered over the course of 2018, Kyle Shanahan’s offense still ranks 15th in the league in both points scored (118) and all-purpose yards (1,890). Bring back Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon, those numbers certainly wind up being higher.
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The problem is the defense.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s 4-3 Under, Cover 3 defense can work well if it has the parts. The issue is Saleh doesn’t have the needed components, particularly in the pass-rush department and in the secondary.
A key part of that secondary is free safety, where second-year pro Adrian Colbert is not enjoying the same kind of production he flashed his rookie season. And considering how important a quality single-high free safety is to Saleh’s scheme, Colbert’s regression is proving to be more than just a little problematic.
So why not bring in the players who helped Saleh’s scheme elsewhere?
Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas is out for the season with a broken leg. Like Le’Veon Bell, he’s also going to benefit from a change in scenery in 2019 and certainly won’t come cheap. He could easily make close to $15 million per season on a new contract.
But considering the kind of value he’d offer to San Francisco’s defense, and factoring in he’s a six-time Pro Bowler, Thomas’ presence would bring this unit to the kind of performance level Saleh envisioned when he installed it.