CBS Sports respects 49ers' efforts in free agency with solid grade (so far)

The Niners certainly had a focal point when it came to the opening wave of NFL free agency.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers focused on the defensive line early in free agency, and CBS Sports appreciated the effort.

Winning in NFL free agency rarely equates to automatically winning during the regular season (or the postseason, for that matter).

That said, each team is forced to reckon with its own context. Cap constraints, team needs, player availability and a slew of other factors and X-factors can make the free agency period either arduous or exciting.

For the San Francisco 49ers, who entered the league new year pressed up against the salary cap, it was going to be challenging for general manager John Lynch and Co. to adequately address the few (but important) needs the team had coming off a Super Bowl loss last February.

in the wake of some tough decisions, including releasing their longest-tenured player, defensive tackle Arik Armstead, the Niners were nevertheless able to engineer some free-agent pickups early during the opening wave of free agency, which began on March 11.

Let's take a look at what CBS Sports' Garrett Podell had to say about San Francisco's transactions.

CBS Sports dishes out B-grade to 49ers for opening free agency moves

The 49ers lost Armstead, yes. But the overwhelming bulk of their moves focused on reinforcing the defensive line.

In come edge rushers Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos, while the Niners also inked former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Jordan Elliott after missing out on now-Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Additionally, San Francisco traded for defensive tackle Maliek Collins in a deal with the Houston Texans to assist with the D-line's interior.

Podell was impressed, giving Lynch and his staff a B-grade for their efforts:

"Floyd is in elite company as one of only three players with at least nine sacks in each of the last three seasons along with 2023 Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett and Pro Bowler Haason Reddick. Gross-Matos, a former second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers, didn't play up to his pedigree in Charlotte, but perhaps San Francisco can help unlock him like they did Charles Omenihu."

Granted, Podell included the rumored signing of former Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Eric Kendricks in his overall grade, and that was before Kendricks ultimately shunned the 49ers and opted to sign with the Dallas Cowboys instead.

However, considering Kendricks' intended use with the Niners was as a fill-in starter for the injured Dre Greenlaw, it's hard seeing the former's missed signing as a serious downgrade for San Francisco's overall attempts to reinforce the roster.

Lynch still has other needs, yes. The offensive line remains a question mark, while adding a defensive back or two should be atop the list of unresolved needs.

However, it's good to see the 49ers are being recognized for workmanlike efforts in free agency thus far.

Because you're wondering, Podell gave the Cowboys a D-grade.

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