Predicting 49ers’ starting defense
Few units experienced as much attrition as San Francisco’s secondary, and it’ll be tough to shore up the losses of notable defensive backs like Jimmie Ward and Emmanuel Moseley, both of whom started for the team for years.
That said, the 49ers’ biggest free-agent splash was on the defensive side of the ball, although it was in the trenches with former Philadephia Eagles lineman Javon Hargrave.
He is one of the handful of free-agent pickups who’ll start right away for the Niners this season.
- Nick Bosa (RDE)
- Javon Kinlaw (DT)
- Javon Hargrave (DT)
- Arik Armstead (LDE)
- Fred Warner (MIKE)
- Dre Greenlaw (WILL)
- Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (SAM)
- Charvarius Ward
- Deommodore Lenoir
- Tashaun Gipson (FS)
- Talanoa Hufanga (SS)
This is a base-down format, and Armstead will kick inside on passing downs, allowing second-year pro Drake Jackson to come in as the edge rusher.
Granted, this pushes Kinlaw out of pass-rushing situations, but Hargrave’s addition already casts a shadow on Kinlaw’s future with San Francisco anyway.
Speaking of the secondary, the 49ers were impressed enough with Lenoir late last season to suggest he can start opposite Ward, yet the free-agent pickup of Isaiah Oliver as a nickel cornerback will see his presence in passing situations.
No changes at safety, but the Niners will still miss Jimmie Ward’s leadership and versatility.