The folks over at Bleacher Report didn’t think the 49ers’ 2022 offseason was spectacular, but they still ranked it best in the NFC West.
Sometimes, teams can win by simply not being as bad as other teams. Perhaps that’s what Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton was thinking when he looked at the San Francisco 49ers and dished out offseason grades thus far for all 32 teams just ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Granted, winning the offseason doesn’t generate any kind of trophy or award, and it certainly won’t automatically guarantee success. Just ask the 2021 Cleveland Browns, who arguably won the last offseason.
Still, it’s important to do well. And with NFL free agency, along with trades associated with the start of the league new year, the first half of the offseason is nevertheless vital.
So, how did the Niners stack up against the rest of their own division, the NFC West?
B/R gives 49ers ‘average’ offseason rankings, not great but better than the rest of the NFC West
As recently as last season, the NFC West was viewed as the NFL’s gauntlet division. That won’t be the case any longer, particularly with the Seattle Seahawks trading away quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos and also releasing perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The Los Angeles Rams eventually signed Wagner, yet that was the lone notable NFL free agency pickup by the Super Bowl champions, an aspect Wharton pointed out.
Wharton gave the Rams and Seahawks grades of D and D-plus, respectively.
That other team in the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals, didn’t fare much better. Also getting a D-grade, the Cards’ most notable departure was EDGE Chandler Jones, while losing wide receiver Christian Kirk to a massive overspend deal to the Jacksonville Jaguars wasn’t considered a massive loss.
So, that leaves San Francisco.
Wharton’s analysis left the 49ers with a straight C-grade, him calling it “an average offseason.”
Sure, the inability to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo casts a long shadow, but the Niners arguably made the right call by letting Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson and nose tackle D.J. Jones depart for lofty deals in NFL free agency. While both were excellent players, neither were true cornerstones.
"If Kyle Shanahan’s staff can remain the strength of the team and Trey Lance plays well in his second season, the 49ers will again be highly competitive.The most notable free-agent departures were guard Laken Tomlinson and defensive tackle D.J. Jones. While they were solid players, the 49ers can focus on replacing them at a fraction of the cost their new teams paid. San Francisco lacks major holes, and neither spot is particularly valued in the draft or later in free agency."
The Niners’ pickup of veteran cornerback Charvarius Ward helps matters a lot. And while there are still holes to fill, the team isn’t exactly viewed as significantly worse than it was this time a year ago.
But it’s not exactly better either, prompting the notion that C-grade is probably justified.