No. 2: What should the 49ers do in the NFL Draft and free agency?
Safety Earl Thomas has to be a top priority. I used to like the idea of going after defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to beef up the interior defensive line. But with so many top-quality D-linemen in the draft, that’s going to be a bit redundant. I would like to see a number of depth pieces brought in, though.
As far as the draft, Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen is a hot name. But I get the argument about Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, too. That could move DeForest Buckner to the outside, which is where he was his rookie year. FSU’s Jachai Polite is a nice riser as well.
In order: Pass Rush, DB’s, WR, ILB.
First off, the 49ers need to tackle their obvious EDGE problem, which they should address with multiple players via both the draft and free agency. The best-case scenario is picking an elite edge rusher with a top pick, while adding additional lower-cost players with later draft picks and less-expensive free agents. If the team chooses to trade back in the draft, I wouldn’t mind the 49ers spending on a high-caliber talent similar to Kansas City Chiefs EDGE Dee Ford in free agency, and then supplementing the acquisition through the draft. The Niners also need to add starter-caliber talent at wide receiver, safety, inside linebacker and cornerback. Finally, San Francisco needs to look toward the future at the tackle position, while adding depth and potential upgrades along the interior offensive line.
One name the 49ers should go after in free agency is Shaq Barrett. He is an underrated pass-rusher who would flourish on this defense. In the draft, the team should focus on edge rushers and cornerbacks early, and receivers in the later rounds.
The top priority for the Niners is to draft an edge rusher. Other top priorities include wide receiver and the secondary, especially at corner. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams from the Los Angeles is set to become a free agent and is a player the 49ers should look into.
The 49ers should try to acquire either Anthony Barr and/or Earl Thomas III. Both players would stabilize a position group, and their top-end talent is exactly what could take the 49ers to the next level.
Ideally the 49ers want to sign one prolific EDGE and draft either another EDGE or Quinnen Williams.
There are numerous EDGEs, such as Ezekiel Ansah and Dee Ford, who should be considered. But if they aren’t hit with the franchise tag by the Houston Texans or Dallas Cowboys, respectively, Jadeveon Clowney and Demarcus Lawrence simply must be considered even if doing so will cost a big chunk of the cap.
Elsewhere, Earl Thomas seems an obvious fit in the defensive scheme of Robert Saleh, while a veteran linebacker to replace the disappointing Malcolm Smith.
Draft-wise, (if no trading down occurs in the first round) Nick Bosa, Williams and Josh Allen are the only names that should be considered at No. 2 with needs filled later on.