San Francisco 49ers: Grading DeForest Buckner trade, other moves in NFL free agency
By Peter Panacy
In a sense, the 49ers chose Arik Armstead over DeForest Buckner.
This was going to be the cheaper option, of course, and Armstead’s annual average if $4 million less than what Buckner is now making. That’s understandable, sure, and it does make sense considering Armstead led the Niners in sacks last season with 10.
Yet 2019 was a career year for the team’s top pick from the 2015 NFL Draft. On one hand, it’s possible to look at this recent surge as Armstead finally hitting his stride after four good-but-not-great years in San Francisco.
On the other, it’s possible to worry about Armstead not coming close to hitting last year’s mark again.
The same could be said for Jimmie Ward, who also enjoyed a career-best year while remaining mostly healthy over the course of the season. Pro Football Focus ranked Ward the sixth best safety in football last year, which is quite the accolade. And San Francisco’s defense was vastly superior with Ward in the ranks than without.
Yet Ward’s return all but closes the door on defensive back Tarvarius Moore assuming a starter’s role anytime soon, particularly at safety.
And when considering Ward has landed on injured reserve in four of his six pro seasons, one can only hope the injury bug doesn’t bite the 2014 first-round draft pick again.