The 49ers made Javon Hargrave a priority free-agent addition this offseason, and he might be the key to making the NFL's best defense exponentially better.
Thirty-one other teams across the league probably think it's unfair.
The San Francisco 49ers, however, feel it's perfectly fine to add star defensive tackle Javon Hargrave via NFL free agency to the defensive line, one that already boasts the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, edge Nick Bosa.
In doing so, general manager John Lynch and Co. continue the tradition of investing prized assets into the D-line to make it the most formidable part of the Niners defense.
Hargrave was one of many reasons why San Francisco lost to the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC Championship game. Having spent three years in Philly, including that 2022 season in which its defense recorded a whopping 70 sacks, Hargrave made his own mark as one of the better interior defenders and pass-rushers in the league today.
His career-best 11 sacks last year is a testament to how well he can perform on an elite D-line.
A Round 3 NFL Draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of South Carolina State in 2016, Hargrave found his footing as an elite-level interior pass-rusher when he joined the Eagles in 2020, ultimately making his first Pro Bowl the following season.
Despite being 30 years old, there is little reason to believe anything else but Hargrave making a massive impact on the 49ers' defensive front.
Why did the 49ers sign Javon Hargrave?
It's not hard to draw the conclusion that the Niners ended up spending big free-agent bucks on Hargrave because of an NFL Draft failure elsewhere.
Injuries have played a major role, but it's safe to say San Francisco isn't getting anything close to what it had hoped for from defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, the team's top pick in the 2020 draft but someone who has played in only 10 regular-season games over the last two years combined.
Hargrave's addition is a direct indictment against Kinlaw, whose fifth-year option won't be picked up by the 49ers.
Now, considering Bosa's presence, the Niners can look to get out of the Bosa-Hargrave tandem what they had originally envisioned with Kinlaw three years ago.
How much are the 49ers paying Javon Hargrave?
Hargrave was one of the bigger big-name free agents this offseason, and San Francisco had to pony up the cash to onboard him, which it did in the opening wave of NFL free agency.
According to Spotrac, Hargrave's deal with the 49ers is for four years and worth up to $84 million, $40 million of which is guaranteed.
That's a serious amount of money for an interior defender. However, many like Bosa feel as if Hargrave can have the kind of impact that defensive tackles Chris Jones and Aaron Donald give the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, respectively.
Take it from Bosa, it's money well spent on Hargrave.
What should 49ers expect from Javon Hargrave this season?
The idea is for Hargrave to give the Niners what they originally wanted out of Kinlaw: a three-down defender who is potent against both the run and the pass. And while outside edge rushers are usually the most featured of all pass-rushers, interior rushers are arguably more valuable.
Think Donald and Jones.
Back in 2012, San Francisco had a tremendous one-two outside/inside pass-rushing tandem with defensive end Justin Smith and edge Aldon Smith. While that was a 3-4 base alignment, the combination of Hargrave and Bosa could be just as potent.
When one is reminded that the 49ers defense in 2022 ranked No. 1 in points against last year, it's feasible to assume that same unit gets seriously better because of Hargrave's addition.
Especially if Bosa is now unleashed even more because of Hargrave's presence.
So, yes, opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks should be frightened when the Niners are on the docket.