Need #1: Wide Receiver

Notable Free Agents:

  • Emmanuel Sanders (came over at the trade deadline - his tenure in SF opened with two huge games - but his production underwhelmed thereafter - though a rib injury probably deserves a considerable amount of blame, wasn't much of a factor in the postseason either, the team may look for a younger and more durable option) 
  • Kendrick Bourne (moderately productive out of the slot in 2019, has good chemistry with Garoppolo - especially in the red zone, there is value in bringing him back) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Deebo Samuel (2019 2nd rounder, was quiet to start the year but was an X-Factor in the 2nd half and postseason, he's a WR in a RB's body and has the versatility to make big plays in several different offensive roles, he is a building block going forward) 
  • Jalen Hurd (2019 3rd rounder, spent his rookie year on IR, was a talented college RB who later converted to WR, brings explosive athletic ability and great size/length to the table, has the talent to contribute in a meaningful way - but remains a bit of a project) 
  • Marquise Goodwin (speedy vertical threat, injuries have limited him to only 35 receptions over the past 2 seasons, both sides may be looking for a change of scenery) 
  • Richie James (2018 7th rounder, he's shown promise as a return man, but has only caught 15 passes in his two seasons with the team)
  • Dante Pettis (2018 2nd rounder, had a promising rookie year but was almost non-existent in 2019 - hauling in 11 of 24 targets, drama with Shanahan and injuries seem to have contributed to his sophomore slump, he's got playmaking ability - but it's unclear if he will be given a real opportunity to redeem himself in SF) 
  • Trent Taylor (2017 5th rounder, was moderately productive out of the slot in 2017 and 2018 - but missed the entire 2019 season with a complex foot injury, his roster spot could be jeopardy in 2020) 

Need Level: High 

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers have an eclectic WR depth chart - stocked with talent but lacking in stability and experience. Some change is needed. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Kendrick Bourne
  • Signed Travis Benjamin (injuries limited him to only 5 games and 6 receptions in 2019, when healthy he's a WR3/WR4 deep ball playmaker) 
  • Drafted in 1st Round: Brandon Aiyuk (spent two years in Juco, then two years at ASU, naturally dynamic with the ball in his hands - runs with elevated speed, vision, elusiveness, and instinct, still a work in progress as a WR - route running needs refinement and hands can be inconsistent, somewhat similar in style and projection to Samuel - big-bodied WR with explosive YAC ability, was also a lethal kick and punt returner at ASU, #25 seems a bit early for a raw prospect)
  • Traded Marquise Goodwin (received minimal compensation - but it was clear that Goodwin did not factor into the team's 2020 plan)  
  • Drafted in 7th Round: Jauan Jennings (moderately productive college career - had his best season as a senior - when he nearly eclipsed the 60 reception / 1,000-yard mark, a lack of speed and quickness - only ran 4.72 in the 40 - will likely limit him to the slot, uses size to his advantage in contested catch situations, is a powerful runner with the ball in his hands, and blocks well) 
  • COVID-19 Opt-out: Travis Benjamin (was probably on the roster bubble to begin with)
  • Signed J.J. Nelson (speedy reserve receiver, will get a chance to replace Benjamin)
  • Signed Tavon Austin (spent his last 2 seasons in DAL as a returner and offensive gadget, still seems to possess explosive speed, Shanahan is probably the ideal coach for him)
  • Season-ending Injury: Jalen Hurd
  • Signed Jaron Brown (experienced reserve)
  • Released Jaron Brown
  • Signed Kevin White (former first round pick, career has been defined to this point by injury and minimal production, theoretically he still offers some upside, but this a shot in the dark more than anything else)
  • Season-ending Injury: JJ Taylor
  • Season-ending Injury: Tavon Austin

Need #2: Cornerback

Notable Free Agents:

  • Jason Verrett (has only appeared in 6 games over the past 4 seasons due to myriad of knee issues, was once regarded as one of the better young CBs in football - made the Pro Bowl in 2015, he's 28 years old - so there is still some hope that he can get back on track but durability can't be assumed at this point) 
  • Emmanuel Mosley (2018 UDFA, made 9 starts in 2019 and for the most part played quite well, he has some full-time starter upside and at the very least can now offer experienced depth) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Richard Sherman (future HOFer, was excellent in 2019 - arguably among the best CBs in the league, continues to lock-down opposing WRs every week, while his health and quality of play have yet to show any obvious signs of decline - at 32 years old he is not going to be a long-term fixture, there is some buzz that a move to safety could be on the horizon) 
  • Ahkello Witherspoon (2017 2nd rounder, career has been a bit of a roller coaster - he showed a lot of promise as a rookie, then had a rather horrendous 2nd year in 2018, he got off to a nice to start in 2019 but got injured after 3 games and when he returned in Week 11 - the 2018 struggles reappeared - and even resulted in a benching, he's certainly got the skills to develop into a quality starter - but he needs to put everything together in 2020 - patience is wearing thin) 
  • K'Waun Williams (very effective slot corner, he's an underrated player) 
  • DJ Reed (2018 5th rounder, has mostly been a special teams player - though the team has given him a few snaps at slot corner and safety, perhaps that versatility will pay off in 2020) 
  • Tim Harris (2019 6th rounder, spent his rookie year on IR, he flashed talent in college - but struggled with injuries)

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers need to bring in competition for the outside CB spot opposite Sherman. Long-term replacement options for Sherman should also be considered. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Jason Verrett 
  • Resigned Emmanuel Mosley 

Need #3: Safety

Notable Free Agents:

  • Jimmie Ward (had a career year in 2019 - started 13 games and was productive and effective in run support and coverage, he rarely makes mistakes, the knock on him has been durability issues and a lack of created turnovers) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Jaquiski Tartt (solid, well-balanced safety - effective in coverage and run-support, his game combines an old-school heavy-hitter mentality with new-school sideline to sideline range, though he does have limited ball production and questionable instincts, injuries have been also been a limitation - he missed 4 games in 2019, 8 in 2018, and 7 in 2017, his contract will be up after the 2020 season - and the 49ers cap situation may not be able to handle an extension) 
  • Tarvarius Moore (2018 3rd rounder, was a safety in college but 49ers moved him to CB as a rookie, he did not stand out in that role and in 2019 Saleh moved him back to safety - which appears to be a  better fit for him - as he showed some promise in dime packages as a 3rd safety, if Ward isn't retained Moore he could factor into the starting conversation - while he hasn't shown much through two seasons - he has the athletic ability and size to become a potential difference-maker) 
  • Marcell Harris (2018 6th rounder, showed some promise across 4 2019 starts, will have a leg up on the competition for a backup safety spot) 

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers will need to either resign or replace Ward. Depth is also needed - especially with Tartt's 2021 free agent status on the horizon. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Jimmie Ward 

Need #4: Defensive End / Edge

Notable Free Agents:

  • Arik Armstead (2015 1st rounder, entered the 2019 season with a solid but unspectacular reputation and only 9 sacks in 4 seasons - but ended it with superstar status and a stuffed stat sheet - 10 sacks, 11 TFLs, and 18 QBH, before handing him a lucrative contract extension the 49ers will need to determine if the breakout was more the result of Armstead's talent rising to fruition or if it was the infusion of talent around him that enabled him to shine) 
  • Ronald Blair (solid rotational DE - recorded 3 sacks in 9 games before tearing ACL in November, a reunion makes sense if the price is right) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Nick Bosa (2019 1st rounder, won DROY and earned a Pro Bowl berth as a rookie, he is already considered one of the best DE's in football and is a legit superstar/building block moving forward) 
  • Dee Ford (played in 11 games but only made 2 starts - was a productive pass rusher - 6.5 sacks - but in no way lived up to the mega-contract the 49ers gave him in the 2019 offseason, the 49ers likely have buyer's remorse and will surely explore ways to get out of his contract- they aren't going to pay him $85,000,000 to be a rotational pass rusher) 
  • Kentavius Street (2018 4th rounder, did not play as a rookie due to a pre-draft ACL tear and spent most of 2019 on IR with a back injury, Street was a solid college player and could contribute to the rotation if his health persists in 2020)

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers will need to bring in a few rotational DL to help fill the void if Armstead isn't retained. They could also consider trading Ford - who is taking up too much cap space relative to his underwhelming 2019 production.  

Updates: 

  • Resigned Arik Armstead (the 49ers choose to pay Armstead over the more established and consistent Buckner - a risky choice to say the least) 
  • Resigned Ronald Blair 
  • Signed Kerry Hyder (flashed ability in 2016 with 8 sacks, but tore his Achilles in 2017 and hasn't been very productive since then, record only 1 sack and 3 TFL as a rotational player in Dallas last year, his roster spot is far from guaranteed) 
  • Signed Dion Jordan (#3 overall pick of 2013 draft, recorded 2 sacks in 7 games for SEA last season, will compete for rotational work in SF)

Need #5: Interior Offensive Line

Notable Free Agents:

  • Ben Garland (solid backup center, started all 3 postseason games) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Weston Richburg (rock-solid center, was having a nice season before going on IR in December, expected to be ready for the start of the 2020 season) 
  • Laken Tomlinson (has started 46/47 games at LG since joining the team in 2017, quality of play has been consistently average - but he has brought much-needed stability)
  • Mike Person (adequate starting RG - is a solid run-blocker but can be a liability in pass-protection, missed 2 games with a neck injury, 2020 will be his age 32 season, set to hit free agency in 2021, he does not have a long-term future in SF)
  • Daniel Brunskill (spent two years on the Falcons practice squad and played in the AAF before singing with SF last April, ended up making starts at RG, RT, and LT - and played well, could factor into the starting conversation at RG and LT in 2020, the 49ers have already signed his ERFA tender) 

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers don't necessarily need to - but they can stand to upgrade both guard spots. Right guard in particular could use an upgrade. 

Updates:

  • Released Mike Person
  • Resigned Ben Garland 
  • Signed Tom Compton (journeyman OL - not an ideal starter but provides experienced depth) 

Need #6: Defensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • Sheldon Day (rotational run-stuffer) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • DeForest Buckner (underrated nationally but a superstar nonetheless, excellent vs. the run, very good pass rusher, his presence and leadership allow his teammates to thrive - he may be the team's most valuable defensive player, he is scheduled to hit FA in 2021) 
  • Solomon Thomas (2017 1st rounder, has not lived up to #3 overall draft billing, started just 3 games in 2019 and only has 6 career sacks, there is still some theoretical upside - but 2020 will be his final year in SF barring an unexpected breakout) 
  • DJ Jones (2017 6th rounder, showed some promise in a nose tackle role before suffering a season-ending injury in December, he plays with a surprising level of explosion - and is not just a run stuffer, could push for a full-time starting job in 2020) 
  • Jullian Taylor (2018 7th rounder, has only made 6 game appearances with the 49ers, he tore his ACL in Week 17 and may not be ready for the start of the 2020 season, has enticing size/athletic ability - but to covert it into on-field production he needs to stay healthy) 

Need Level: Moderate 

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers are set with the Buckner-Thomas-Jones trio for 2020. But all three of those players are set to hit FA in 2021 - so the long-term outlook of this unit must be taken into account. 

Updates:

  • Traded DeForest Buckner (this trade indicates that the 49ers were  unwilling to clear the cap space needed to sign Buckner to a long-term extension, they got solid compensation in the trade - the #13 overall pick - but it's a risk to let go of such an important player) 
  • Drafted in 1st Round: Javon Kinlaw (so the 49ers trade Buckner - and use the pick to draft a much-cheaper replacement in Kinlaw - who offers built-in-a-lab DT size, length, explosion, and power, his tape is full of disruptive moments but is not consistently dominant - in large part due to technical issues, complicating matters is his injury history - which includes a 2018 hip surgery and knee tendinitis, he is a boom-bust prospect) 

Need #7: Running Back

Notable Free Agents:

  • Jeff Wilson (2018 UDFA, only 30 touches across 10 games in 2019 - but scored 5 total TDs, will compete for a part-time role if retained) 
  • Matt Breida (RFA, had a nice season in 2019 - 626 rushing yards, 5.1 ypc, averaged 11 carries per game, was limited down the stretch with an ankle injury and was sparingly used in the playoffs - which may be a sign that the team is ready to move in a different direction) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Raheem Mostert (117-715-11 TD with a 6.1 ypc over the final 8 games of the season/playoffs - this included a 220-4TD performance in the NFC Championship Game, he's on track to lead the RB rotation - but still has to prove he can handle the load for an entire season - he has never been an RB1 - in the pros or college) 
  • Tevin Coleman (was not all that efficient in 2019 - averaged a career-worst 4.0 ypc, was not used much late in the season and into the playoffs, injuries continue to be a limitation, he's not a bad RB2 by any stretch - but the 49ers could look for younger, cheaper, and more durable options)
  • Jerick McKinnon (signed a big FA deal in 2018 but has never taken a snap with the 49ers due to an unfortunate ACL injury, will need to take a pay-cut to stick around, at 28 years-old there is still hope that he can return to his explosive pre-injury ways)

Need Level: Moderate 

Need to Address:

  • Similar to the WR unit - the 49er's group of RBs is an eclectic mix of talent but lacks an established RB1 (which could be by design). Perhaps they will move forward with Mostert in that role. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Matt Breida 
  • Reigned Jeff Wilson 
  • Restructured contact: Jerick McKinnon 
  • Traded Matt Breida (received a 5th round pick, this is a vote for confidence for Mostert) 

Need #8: Offensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • Shon Coleman (missed the entire 2019 season with an ankle injury, did not play much the year before either - but started 16 games for the Browns in 2017, so he does offer experience as a swing tackle candidate) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Joe Staley (legendary 49er - he's been with them through all the ups and downs, missed 9 games in 2019 with a broken leg but continued to play like a high-caliber LT when healthy, 2020 will be Staley's age 36 season - but retirement rumors have been persistent) 
  • Mike McGlinchey (2018 1st rounder, has quietly emerged as one of the leagues better run-blocking RTs, but he is inconsistent in the pass-blocking area, he has the tools to put everything together in 2020) 
  • Justin Skule (2019 6th rounder, started games 8 in relief of Staley at LT, quality of play was decent, could compete for the starting LT job if Staley retires, at the very least figures to have a leg up on the swing tackle spot) 

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • If Staley retires then finding a replacement LT becomes the top need, if he sticks around then the 49ers should consider a developmental option who can take over in 2021. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Shon Coleman
  • Retired: Joe Staley 
  • Traded for Trent Williams (gave up a 2020 5th round pick and 2021 3rd round pick, Williams was one of the league's best LTs from 2012 to 2018 - but he sat out the entire 2019 season and has not completed a full 16 game season since 2013, he's a tough player - but injuries have been a frequent limitation - and could be an even larger issue as he gets older - he will be 32 in July, the 49ers knew Staley was going to retire - and Williams was by far the top replacement option, the compensation price was not too steep - so this is a nice move - but his availability may be spotty - and he is not a long-term solution)
  • Drafted in 5th Round: Colton McKivitz (4-year starter at WVU, spent 3 years at RT and 1 year at LT, was an effective college player but lacks the physical and athletic attributes coaches look for in a starting-caliber NFL OT, though he may be able to overcome those limitations due to his advanced technique and nasty playing style, he projects as a swing-tackle - but could also be tried at guard) 
  • COVID 19 Opt-out: Shon Coleman

Need #9: Tight End / Fullback

Notable Free Agents:

  • Ross Dwelley (underwhelming TE2 - reeled in 15 of 22 targets for 91 yards and 2 TDs in 2019) 
  • Levine Toilolo (blocking specialist, only caught 2 passes in 2019) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • George Kittle (the best all-around TE in football - elite playmaker and elite run-blocker, the 49ers need to sign him long-term - he is unquestionably their best overall player) 
  • Kyle Juszczyk (the best FB in football, makes contributions as a pass-catcher, blocker, and runner, has a knack for coming through in clutch moments) 

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers need depth behind Kittle. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Ross Dwelley 
  • Drafted in 6th Round: Charlie Woerner (blocking specialist, minimal receiving production at Georgia, projects more as a FB or H-Back, Shanahan appears to have targeted him for a reason)
  • Signed Jordan Reed (hasn't played since 2018 and for his career he's appeared in only 65 of 112 possible games, he did have great success when Shanahan was the OC in Washington, intriguing low risk flier)

Need #10: Quarterback

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Jimmy Garoppolo (you can't argue with the winning % - but for the most part Garoppolo looked like an upper-echelon game manager in 2019 - someone who can lead his teammates to victory but not necessarily put the team on his back and carry them to victory - see his underwhelming Super Bowl performance, having said that - 2019 was the first time in his career that he served as a full-time starter - so there is still room for growth - especially if the front office can improve the WR situation, note that the 49ers can get out of his contract after the 2020 season)
  • Nick Mullens (won the QB2 job in 2019 and showed a moderate amount of promise across 8 2018 starts, the 49ers have already signed his EFRA tender)
  • CJ Beathard (2017 3rd rounder, showed some upside in 7 starts as a rookie, but struggled and was eventually benched for Mullens in 2018, spent 2019 as the QB3, he has some talent - and could be a trade candidate if the 49ers are comfortable with Mullens as the primary backup) 

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers could consider upgrading Garoppolo (kick the tires on Brady perhaps) - they also need to think long-term about the backup situation - both Mullens and Beathard are 2021 FAs. 

Need #11: Linebacker

Notable Free Agents: 

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Fred Warner (2018 3rd rounder, overlooked defensive superstar, plays a well-balanced game - elite coverage, strong vs. the run, effective as a blitzer, if he continues his progression he will receive the national recognition he deserves) 
  • Dre Greenlaw (2019 5th rounder, made 11 starts across a super impressive rookie year, he is a sideline to sideline LB who plays with great instinct, explosion, speed, and range, he's too talented not to start in 2020) 
  • Kwon Alexander (big 2019 FA signing, was playing well - especially in coverage - before suffering a pec injury in Week 9 that kept him out of action for the rest of the regular season, his replacement, Greenlaw, played very well and is a much cheaper and higher upside option going forward, the 49ers can get out of Alexander's contract after the 2020 season concludes) 
  • Mark Nzeocha (special teams ace who can step in at LB if needed - he started 3 games in 2018)

Need Level: Low 

Need to Address: 

  • The 49ers have 3 Pro Bowl-caliber LBs - and all of them are under age 26. Depth is the only need. 

Updates:

  • Signed Joe Walker (made 11 non-descript starts in AZ last season, offers experienced depth and special teams ability)

Need #12: Special Teams

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Robbie Gould (a quad injury negatively impacted his FG accuracy in the first half of the season and held him out of Weeks 9 through 12 - but he went 10/11 to close out the regular season and was a perfect 7/7 in the postseason, if his health permits - he should be among the league's best kickers in 2020)
  • Mitch Wishnowsky (2019 4th round pick, ranked 9th in the league in terms of punts inside the 20, he will be punting in SF for a while)

Need Level: Low

Need to Address:

  • The 49ers have an excellent kicker and a very promising young punter - there is not much need here.