The 49ers have added and lost — and lost even more — free agents over the past three days, and their roster is starting to take shape.
Yes, there are still players to add, and we’ll highlight the three most needed positions below. But with little salary cap space and their first NFL Draft selection at the end of the third round, it’s likely that most of the major pieces are already in place.
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Here is a post-by-post overview of the progress of things and areas for improvement.
On board: Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, Sam Darnold
Departure : Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders), Josh Johnson
Lance is expected to be the team’s top quarterback when the OTAs begin in May, with Darnold filling in as a back-up, the same role Nate Sudfeld played last spring. The situation will get more complicated at the end of the summer when Purdy’s right elbow is fully healed, but we think he will need a little time before he can return to the No. 2 role from Darnold or the No. No. 1 from Lance. That is to say, while everyone likes to get hot and bothered by quarterback controversies, the topic will likely be moot until September.
What about a fourth quarterback? It’s possible. Purdy didn’t have much work last spring, as Lance and Sudfeld gobbled up the bulk of the practice shots. But he saw action in training camp and preseason. A rookie, someone who signed late in the draft or after the draft, could fill that role in the offseason and then start the season on the practice squad. The active list? When everyone is healthy, the 49ers could wear three quarters for the first time in years.
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On board: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price, Kyle Juszczyk (back)
Departure : Tevin Coleman
Incoming: Undrafted rookie
That position appears as stable as it has been in the years following the McCaffrey acquisition and Mason’s encouraging season. There would be a collective fanbase panic if the 49ers spent a third-round pick on a running back for the third straight season, and rightly so. With Bobby Turner and Anthony Lynn as coaches and scouts, the team’s best strategy might be to bring in runners after the draft, as it has done with Mason, Salvon Ahmed, JaMycal Hasty, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Matt Breida in previous years. . All are still in the league. Coleman could also be available during the season if there are injury concerns.
On board: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings (submitted), Ray-Ray McCloud III, Danny Gray, Tay Martin, Dazz Newsome
Departure : Willie Snead IV
Incoming: Rookies, budget veterans
The 49ers have kept just five receivers on the 53-man roster for most of the 2022 season, and those same five, if healthy, could also be the only active members of the roster this season. The draft is deep at wide receiver, and the team already appears to be looking for future replacements for McCloud, who serves as the team’s returner and is only signed through 2023. The 49ers typically carry 11 or 12 receivers during their 90-man offseason. list. As it stands, they have seven. Look for them to draft at least one broad and add more later.
On board: George Kittle, Charlie Worner
Departure : Tyler Kroft, Ross Dwelley, Jordan Matthews
Incoming: Rookie, budget free agent
The 49ers kept four tight ends on the active roster last season, though they were rarely in uniform at the same time. Look for the 49ers to add a tight end in what is being hailed as the best draft at the position in a while. A combination of Kroft, Dwelley or Matthews could also be back in the mix this offseason on minimum wage deals. Kroft spent most of last season as the team’s No. 2 tight end.
On board: Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Colton McKivitz, Jaylon Moore, Nick Zakelj, Jason Poe, Keith Ismael, Leroy Watson, Alfredo Gutierrez
Departure : Mike McGlinchey (Broncos), Daniel Brunskill (Titans)
Incoming: Rookie or free agent
The 49ers look OK inside the line. Brendel, Zakelj and Ismael – who spent most of last season on the practice squad – are the centers, with Banks, Burford, Poe, Zakelj and Ismael at guard. The tackle spot, however, is slim and the team could handle bringing in a veteran. Or maybe the 49ers consolidate some of their 11 draft picks and grab a quality tackle on Day 2 of the draft. Someone to keep tabs on this offseason is Watson, a tight end-to-end convert who made positive progress in this transition last season.
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On board: Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, Arik Armstead, Drake Jackson, Clelin Ferrell, Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, Kalia Davis, Alex Barrett
Departure : Samson Ebukam (Colts), Charles Omenihu (Chiefs), Hassan Ridgeway (Texans), Kerry Hyder Jr., Jordan Willis, Kemoko Turay, Maurice Hurst, TY McGill, Michael Dwumfour
Incoming: Budget veteran, rookie
The 49ers have done a good job of bolstering their defensive line with Hargrave and Ferrell, but they’re still outnumbered. The team likes to have eight active defensive linemen on game days, 10 on the 53-man roster and 14 or 15 on the offseason roster. Willis and Turay could be return possibilities, and the team has had recent talks about Willis, who is also a fixture on special teams. The draft, meanwhile, is deep on the defensive line, and it would be a slight surprise if the 49ers didn’t make a selection at that position.
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On board: Fred Warner, Dr Greenlaw, Oren Burks, Marcelino McCrary-Ball, Curtis Robinson
Departure : Azeez Al-Shaair (Titans), Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
Incoming: Budget veteran, rookie
The 49ers expected to lose Al-Shaair, their longtime No. 3 linebacker, who is destined to play a game-changing role in Tennessee. They didn’t offer Flannigan-Fowles, who was expected to be a restricted free agent. He now becomes an unrestricted free agent and could return with a minimum league contract. With Al-Shaair gone, Burks is the de facto No. 3 linebacker. McCrary-Ball, however, should be fun to watch this offseason. An undrafted rookie last year, he’s quick and aggressive and has a good chance of making the active roster.
On board: Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaiah Oliver, Samuel Womack III, Ambry Thomas, Qwuantrezz Knight, AJ Parker
Departure : Jimmie Ward (Texans), Emmanuel Moseley (Lions), Jason Verrett, Janoris Jenkins
Incoming: Mid-level free agent, rookie
The position was screaming for another experienced veteran after the 49ers lost Jimmie Ward and Moseley. So they brought in Oliver, who has played 62 games with the Falcons over the past five seasons and is slated to take over Jimmie Ward’s role as a nickel cornerback. This decision should allow Lenoir to stay on the outside, where he made progress at the end of the season. We included Knight at cornerback because he played it — specifically the nickel cornerback — as a rookie last offseason and remained on the practice squad throughout the year. There is also a security option.
On board: Tashaun Gipson Sr., Talanoa Hufanga, George Odum, Tyler Hawkins
Departure : Tarvarius Moore, Dontae Johnson
Incoming: Budget veteran, rookie
The first three places are fixed with Gipson, Hufanga and Odum. The fourth? There hasn’t been any buzz about Moore in free agency yet, and because of that, there’s a slight possibility that he’ll return on a one-year deal. Hawkins and Knight are certainly candidates for that fourth spot, and Knight has the potential to be a special teams mainstay like Moore has been.
On board: P Mitch Wishnowsky, LS Taybor Pepper, PR McCloud
Departure : K Gould
Incoming: High-End Veteran, Budget Veteran, Rookie
The 49ers and Gould obviously disagree on compensation – hence the report earlier this month that Gould will play “elsewhere” this season. Still, Gould remains in the market, and as long as he does, it’s possible to come back. If he signs with, say, the Cowboys, the 49ers could go for a cheaper veteran, someone like Eddy Piñeiro, Matt Prater or whoever loses the Chargers kicker competition between Cameron Dicker and Dustin Hopkins. The 49ers could also draft a kicker. Michigan’s Jake Moody is considered the top prospect, although a potential problem with him is that the Lions also buy kickers and could be drawn to the guy who kicked just down the street in Ann Arbor .
(Top photo of Robbie Gould and Clelin Ferrell: Chris Unger/Getty Images)