49ers: Kyle Juszczyk signing means offensive line is now priority

San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers almost have the bones of a successful offense in place for 2021 but the O-line remains a question mark.

The first day of NFL free agency was most about keeping key people in check for the San Francisco 49ers, as the team extended fullback Kyle Juszczyk and cornerback Jason Verrett instead of allowing them to walk.

In addition, the team brought in EDGE Samson Ebukam from the Los Angeles Rams.

Offensively, the team won one and lost with the extension of Juszczyk and the loss of wide receiver Kendrick Bourne to the New England Patriots. Bourne was a decent cog in the offensive machine, as he was pretty good at getting first downs when he had to. However, it’s no exaggeration every Niners fan would choose Juszczyk to continue his stellar role in the offense if the result was Bourne had to leave the team (no disrespect to Bourne intended).

Now, the No. 1 priority for San Francisco is extending left tackle Trent Williams. Failing that, the team needs to find a viable blindside blocker for there to be any chance of returning to the top of the mountain in 2021.

Priority No. 2 will be upgrading the interior offensive line. The simple truth of it is the retooled interior was not up to it in 2020. Center Weston Richburg is expected to retire, according to multiple reports, so adding an experienced center should be a consideration for free agency. If not, the NFL Draft does have some prospects who could be worth consideration as a Week 1 starter at center or guard.

Priority No. 3 will be depth. The team was effectively running on fumes in 2020 due to the high injury rate, and the offensive line is the one place you can’t run out of depth. The backup players don’t have to be world-beaters, but they have to be good enough to play for at least a few games if called upon.

The 49ers have the bare bones of an offense that can get back to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They’ve done it before with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, the running back rotation is still healthy, the team has a few elite young receivers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, and the Niners boast the best tight end in all of football in George Kittle.

The pieces are there and can be supplemented with decent but cheap players in free agency or with selections in the draft.

The only big priority now? Get the offensive line as good as possible as quickly as possible.

Do so, and the team will be well on its way back to the top.

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