The 49ers haven’t had an overly splashy offseason thus far, but these four moves probably warrant more attention than they’re currently getting.
A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers were the centerpiece of the NFL news cycle after aggressively trading up to the No. 3 overall spot in the 2021 NFL Draft.
That led to all kinds of speculation surrounding which quarterback they’d take (it could only be for a quarterback, right?), and seemingly all other football talk from around the league paled in comparison to the Niners’ big move.
Well, this offseason, San Francisco’s news cycle has centered not around actual moves but ones that never happened: a failed trade of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, then speculation about wide receiver Deebo Samuel‘s future.
Not so much about what general manager John Lynch and Co. actually did during the offseason thus far.
The 49ers’ lone big-ticket NFL free agency move was to sign cornerback Charvarius Ward to a sizable three-year deal, which addressed a primary weakness within the secondary. Aside from that, though, most of Lynch’s moves addressed mere depth concerns and special teams.
Not much else.
That said, here are four critical moves the Niners made that should garner a lot more attention in league circles.
No. 4: 49ers adding Oren Burks to help with special teams
San Francisco sorely needed to upgrade its special teams unit during the offseason after Football Outsiders ranked it 26th in the league a year ago. And while the addition of former Indianapolis Colts safety George Odum gained a decent amount of headlines, as Odum was a first-team All-Pro special teamer in 2020, don’t overlook the 49ers’ addition of former Green Bay Packers linebacker Oren Burks.
“Special teams throughout my career, that’s been something I can hang my hat on,” Burks told NBC Sports Bay Area shortly after joining the Niners. “And kind of got some notice around the league for that.”
Indeed, Burks’ special teams grade from Pro Football Focus last year was a respectable 71.4, and he figures to bring that prowess and experience to a unit that is in desperate need of it this season.
Fans may not see much of Burks on defense, but it’s likely they’ll notice his work on the critical third phase of the game.