The Athletic says 49ers were offseason 'losers,' but that claim doesn't matter

The Niners' objective in 2024 wasn't to 'win the offseason' anyway.
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The 49ers were offseason 'losers,' according to The Athletic's Mike Jones. But, even if he's correct, the claim doesn't carry much weight.

The last anyone checked, the NFL doesn't hand out awards for winning an offseason.

No points are granted for having the best draft class or the best free-agent signings. Sure, it's fun to grade and react to such moves, and roster building is a vital part to any team's immediate and long-term success.

But, for the San Francisco 49ers, the goal for 2024 wasn't to come away with a flashy offseason (whatever that means) and wow all the pundits and analysts. If anything, general manager John Lynch and Co. focused their efforts on filling short-term needs with affordable free agents while using draft capital to stockpile the roster for 2025, guarding against potential significant changes a year from now.

Regardless, The Athletic's Mike Jones wasn't a fan of the Niners' offseason efforts, citing the team as one of the biggest losers entering 2024.

Jones wrote:

"After a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, the 49ers had a relatively quiet offseason. They gave Christian McCaffrey an extension and drafted Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, who might not be ready for prime time until 2025. The offensive line could’ve used a bolster, but John Lynch made no significant additions. Perhaps the most notable departure was defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, whose philosophies never quite meshed with those of Kyle Shanahan. Can first-year defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen reignite a defense that lost [Arik] Armstead and Javon Kinlaw and added Leonard Floyd, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jordan Elliott?"

We can nitpick Jones' take all we want, including the non-mention of defensive tackle Maliek Collins to replace Armstead and the upgrades made at cornerback, namely by signing Isaac Yiadom and Rock Ya-Sin.

But that's besides the point.

49ers didn't need to 'win' the offseason

San Francisco didn't need to emerge as offseason winners.

Lynch's goal for 2024 was simple: tweak a Super Bowl-caliber roster to maintain being a top competitor. There wasn't an overabundance of glaring holes, nor were the 49ers dealing with a talented-yet-underachieving bunch that was in desperate need of shake-ups.

Niners Wire's Kyle Madson summed this up nicely by writing, "Whether they win in March and April will matter far less than whether they win in February."

Madson also went into more detail:

"They didn’t need to make a major splash. They needed to mostly run it back while trying to manage funds to ensure they can sustainably fit a massive extension for Brock Purdy on the books as soon as next offseason."

That might help explain the draft strategy. Using Pearsall as a case study, even if Jones is correct by saying he won't make an impact until 2025, that's likely the reason why the Niners drafted the former Florida pass-catcher. He'll be a go-to option, should a cap-pressed San Francisco squad opt to part ways with either one of their current top-two receivers, Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk, after the upcoming season.

Jones' comments might anger some 49ers fans, but the truth of the matter is, well... the comments don't matter.

What does matter is if the Niners can "run it back," as Madson countered.

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