With NFL free agency almost upon us, the San Francisco 49ers will be looking to secure some veterans to help bolster their ranks. Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr is one such player who might just be a good fit.
The San Francisco 49ers need help in several key positions across the board prior to the start of the 2019 season. While EDGE is the most important and will likely be sorted with the Niners’ Round 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, other positions of need include wide receiver, the secondary and at linebacker.
While I recently looked at some outside linebackers in my five linebackers for San Francisco to select in the 2019 NFL Draft article, there is always the possibility that the 49ers decide to go the NFL free agency route to secure a vet that needs little or no development.
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr is set to become a free agent this offseason, with the Vikings and Barr unable to reach an agreement for a contract extension at the completion of 2017. The Vikings will also have little chance of holding onto the outside linebacker due to salary cap restraints for the upcoming season.
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Barr said to ESPN during the recent Pro Bowl. “It’s been a whole year, two years really, coming, so – my contract was up last year, had the option, and this year now it’s really up so the possibilities I feel like are endless and I could be anywhere. I want to be back, like I’ve said throughout the last year, but like I’ve been saying also I know my worth and I know what I’ve got to do I’ve got to do it for me.”
This will be the first time Barr has hit free agency since the Vikings drafted him ninth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. With Barr earning $12.3 million in 2018, he’s likely to come at a costly price. A price however, that might just be worth paying.
With the 49ers lacking an effective pass rush, there is no reason why Barr shouldn’t be able to make the transition to the Niners’ defense, lining up at SAM. The Vikings, after all, also run a 4-3 scheme, which saw Barr utilized heavily as a pass-rusher in 2018.
2018 was Barr’s weakest season in terms of tackling production. He missed three games with a hamstring injury which also didn’t help his numbers. Barr recorded a combined total of 55 tackles, which included 39 solo tackles. He had eight tackles for a loss with four quarterback hits and three sacks.
Comparing his total tackles to that of the 49ers defenders, Barr would have come in fourth place behind Fred Warner, DeForest Buckner and Elijah Lee, all of whom were active in all 16 games. It’s feasible that if Barr had been healthy for the entire season, he most likely would have ranked second overall behind Warner.
In what would most likely now receive a penalty, Barr showed his speed in 2017 when he laid out Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The resulting tackle would fracture Rodgers’ collarbone with the quarterback being sidelined for a good chunk of the season.
With Barr’s power, explosiveness, athleticism and ability to make big hits, he could make all the difference to the 49ers’ defense. Teaming him up with Bucker on the inside and either NFL Draft prospect EDGEs, Nick Bosa or Josh Allen, could solve the Niners’ pass-rush deficiencies overnight.
The four-time Pro Bowler has demonstrated his skill at blitzing and is definitely worth a look by the 49ers. As a position the Niners needs to improve, Barr not only brings with him veteran experience, but also possesses the capacity to get the job done.