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How to improve the 49ers in the 2019 offseason

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The Draft Network put together a really great article on how the 49ers should approach this offseason.

https://thedraftnetwork.com/2018/11/26/fixing-the-san-francisco-49ers-2019-offseason-plan/

It feels like the author read my mind with some of the ideas he had for how we should deal with this offseason while adding some ideas I hadn't thought of. 

First of all, I love the idea of bringing in Earl Thomas. I think pretty much everyone in this forum agrees he should be our #1 priority FA. It just makes too much sense with him knowing the scheme, reuniting with Sherman, giving the Hawks the middle finger, a major position of need, and us having a boatload of cash to spend. Our secondary might start getting a little long in the tooth but it would give us some room to breathe in regards to drafting and developing secondary players. He would also give us some MUCH needed football IQ for our defense.

 

KJ Wright is a guy that I hadn't considered before but it makes a lot of sense now for a lot of the same reasons as ET would. I also think we should be unloading Malcolm Smith in 2020 when we finally get an out on his contract so it would make sense to have someone there to replace him at SAM. The issue with this is that Wright is also 30 so we could be setting ourselves up for a mass exodus in 2 or 3 years of some really important pieces if we're not careful.

I think someone like Deone Bucannon would make a lot of sense as he could play our newly vacated WILL spot for us and is a young solid piece we could work with. I don't think he's a world beater by any means but I think he could play an important role in our defense for several years.

CJ Mosely is another hot LB name that we could play at WILL or MIKE (since they are interchangeable within our scheme). He might be wanting more money than we're willing to shell out for though but he's an interesting name to keep in mind anyway. 

We could also choose to forego signing any big name LB's and try our hand at drafting a LB. Peters, Lynch, and Shanny are 2/2 in two years when it comes to drafting stud backers (shame one of them was a headcase) so it could make a lot of sense to give it another go in the 3rd or 4th rounds. But we have needs all over the place so likewise, it would make sense to go BPA with those picks and signs some guys since we have a ton of cap space. Unless of course, we dump a bunch of money into an EDGE rusher...

 

The article doesn't mention signing another pass-rusher since the author assumes we end up with Bosa but even if we do end up him, it's imperative to find him a counterpart as a pass-rusher. We just don't get enough pressure from the edges to not warrant bringing in another pass-rusher even with the addition of Bosa. Outside of signing ET (and potentially taking Bosa) adding a big name EDGE guy could be the most important addition to our team. A tandem of a veteran PR and Bosa would make our pass-rush lethal and elevate the entire defense.

 Frank Clark is another Seahawk (I'm seeing a trend here) that would make a lot of sense for us to add. He's having another great season with 10+ sack and would easily transition to our defense. He'd be my top target if he were to hit the market. But that's doubtful as I can see the Seahawks giving him a fat contract or tagging him in a worst-case scenario.

Dee Ford would be a great pickup. I'd love to see him rushing from the wide 9 and Bosa on the other side rushing from the strongside. It's probably a bit risky since he is relatively boom or bust with only two years of actual production but the potential is there and I think he could feast within our system. He's also going to demand a large salary so we'd need to be careful considering we'll also be tying up some resources in DeForest Buckner soon too. He'd be a big gamble, but one I'd be willing to take if we got the chance.

Brandon Graham is also an interesting potential signing. Not as flashy of sack numbers as the two mentioned above but he's still a fearsome pass-rusher in his own right and a generally well-rounded veteran player. He still manages to create a lot of pressure even if he hasn't turned them into sacks. We are still starving for any consistent pressure so he'd fill a need there and he could funnel some sacks into Buckner or Bosa even if he doesn't get them himself. He's a little old but a lot of his game is predicated off of technique and motor so he could continue to be effective deeper into his career than most EDGE guys. I like this signing a lot if Ford and Clark are not available or the market is too high for either of them.

 

As for the draft, I agree with a lot of the strategy that TDN provided. Take Bosa first overall if we get the chance and don't even think of trading that pick. Bosa is a guy who is going to come into the league right away and start putting up 10 or 12 sacks each year. Even if we sign an EDGE guy that kind of production cannot be missed unless someone is ready to move their entire future for the guy. If we miss out on the first pick we ought to trade back with a QB needy team and draft our favorite EDGE guy. If we can't do that just go ahead and reach for him.

With our second pick, I also love the idea of going with a big X receiver. I mentioned it a week or two ago in one of the game threads but I think this should be a big priority for us. This draft is loaded with big receivers who could help us punch it in in the redzone and give Jimmy a big security blanket to throw to, something we currently lack. Garcon is on his way out the door after this season so he'll need someone to replace him as our feature #1 receiver. I think there is going to be a perfect intersection of need and great draft value at the top of the second and we'll get a chance to snag a mid-first round receiver. DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, N'Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon... Somebody will fall through the cracks especially considering there are a couple of shorter guys that might also be taken in the first. We should just take whoever we like best of the big guys that falls to us.

TDN has us going with a CB with our third pick and while that makes sense, I'm not sure I'm still picking for need at this point. I'd like to see how our current crop of CB could perform with an improved pass-rush and safety play and let Witherspoon and Moore develop a little more. Our roster is still filled with holes and we just need to get the guy we think can improve this team the most, regardless of position. Of course, if we think that guy is a corner then, by all means, let's take him, I just don't want to pigeonhole us to a position as I did in the first couple rounds.

 

So TL;DR

1. Sign ET

2. Sign big name EDGE guy or ILB+ Brandon Graham

3. Draft Bosa or trade+ favorite EDGE or (worst-case scenario) reach for favorite EDGE

4. Draft best big receiver left

5. Draft BPA

 

This won't fix everything but I think it's a great start to getting us back towards where we want to be even if every signing or draft pick doesn't work out as expected. Feel free to add any other ideas for improving this team this offseason.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Geek said:

Feel free to add any other ideas for improving this team this offseason.

Getting Jimmy and Jet back, to go along with that big WR draftee (who can be a factor in the redzone, hopefully), and hire a defensive consultant who can see what Saleh is missing and give him pointers in regard to playcalling. Or replace him altogether.

Really, the weakest part of the master plan was having an inexperienced DC to go along with a HC that doubles as an offensive playcaller. Kyle can't oversee the defense as well as work on the offense at the same time. He's probably looking at coverage stills and trying to come up with a plan to attack the defense on the next possession, in the meantime, Saleh is running the show, and it isn't cutting it. He needs help.

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22 minutes ago, rudyZ said:

Getting Jimmy and Jet back, to go along with that big WR draftee (who can be a factor in the redzone, hopefully), and hire a defensive consultant who can see what Saleh is missing and give him pointers in regard to playcalling. Or replace him altogether.

Really, the weakest part of the master plan was having an inexperienced DC to go along with a HC that doubles as an offensive playcaller. Kyle can't oversee the defense as well as work on the offense at the same time. He's probably looking at coverage stills and trying to come up with a plan to attack the defense on the next possession, in the meantime, Saleh is running the show, and it isn't cutting it. He needs help.

3

I really wonder how much of our defensive issues are guys not executing versus Saleh calling bad plays. On one side you have someone like Sherman who is adamant that Saleh is making the correct calls but the defense just isn't executing them correctly. We see that all the time with blown coverages and our non-existent pass-rush leading to big chunk plays. On the other hand, we've seen a complete regression of our young defensive players, especially those in their second year. That makes me think that coaching is the issue. But again maybe that is on the positional coaches and they're the ones who need to go. To be honest it might be a bit of column A and a bit of column B. I do like the suggestion that we bring in a defensive consultant to work with Saleh though.

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28 minutes ago, Geek said:

I really wonder how much of our defensive issues are guys not executing versus Saleh calling bad plays. On one side you have someone like Sherman who is adamant that Saleh is making the correct calls but the defense just isn't executing them correctly. We see that all the time with blown coverages and our non-existent pass-rush leading to big chunk plays. On the other hand, we've seen a complete regression of our young defensive players, especially those in their second year. That makes me think that coaching is the issue. But again maybe that is on the positional coaches and they're the ones who need to go. To be honest it might be a bit of column A and a bit of column B. I do like the suggestion that we bring in a defensive consultant to work with Saleh though.

Probably a bit of both. The biggest glaring thing for me is that the quality control on imparting knowledge onto folks and making sure people don't blow assignments or make leverage mistakes or miss tackles or play sloppily in general isn't there. There is also a lack of outright talent on that side of the ball in spite of all of the resources we've poured into fixing the issue (We've got what - maybe three above average defenders? Giving Sherman and the young Warner the benefit of the doubt?).  Why does that lack of talent exist? Draft picks busting/possible veteran leadership retiring early/overlapping skillsets is a start. Veteran pickups not working out (even at cheap price points) is a follow on. If you pick defensive players in for 5 of the past seven first round picks and only one can be considered a positive asset, even with a recent change in regimes, you have to look at both talent evaluation and development on that side of the ball. Defense is about the weakest link - offenses will always be attracted to your weaknesses. And we have very weak links. Replacing Spoon, the rotating FS door, and the Edge rushers with average and competent NFL starters rather than black holes would help a lot (even if that is replacing Spoon with a better version of himself). Then we can dream about linebackers and a SS made of sturdy building materials.

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47 minutes ago, Geek said:

I really wonder how much of our defensive issues are guys not executing versus Saleh calling bad plays. On one side you have someone like Sherman who is adamant that Saleh is making the correct calls but the defense just isn't executing them correctly. We see that all the time with blown coverages and our non-existent pass-rush leading to big chunk plays. On the other hand, we've seen a complete regression of our young defensive players, especially those in their second year. That makes me think that coaching is the issue. But again maybe that is on the positional coaches and they're the ones who need to go. To be honest it might be a bit of column A and a bit of column B. I do like the suggestion that we bring in a defensive consultant to work with Saleh though.

Honestly, this wouldn't be on the DC to me anyway. I don't consider that the DC's responsibility, I view that as a positional coach's responsibility. I think the DC's job is to come up with strategy, gameplans, adjustments, etc. That's why we always give credit for what Tomsula did here with the defensive line guys and not guys guys like Fangio & Manusky. 

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1 hour ago, rudyZ said:

Getting Jimmy and Jet back

 

Quote

" J- J- J- Jimmy and the Jet. dun dun dunnon dun! "

(  oh shut up, and keep drinking! )

I'd like to think I will have some strong ideas as the offseason gets closer. Right now, and I could be completely tripping over my thoughts. Focus on an EDGE rusher, moar LB, WR, and probably moar OL and DB. Should have some cap room to spend, and lots of power with the early draft pick. 

I like your thread here, @Geek, and some intriguing possibilities. 

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4 hours ago, Forge said:

Honestly, this wouldn't be on the DC to me anyway. I don't consider that the DC's responsibility, I view that as a positional coach's responsibility. I think the DC's job is to come up with strategy, gameplans, adjustments, etc. That's why we always give credit for what Tomsula did here with the defensive line guys and not guys guys like Fangio & Manusky. 

Yeah, also development is hardly straight forward, there often are some slumps. Could be that Witherspoon explodes next year. Colbert might be someone who just completely overperformed last year and is just playing on his normal level this year. Hard to blame the coaches on that.

But I agree on general consensus of reviewing and adding/changing personnel on the defensive coaching staff.

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2 hours ago, AustrianNiner said:

Yeah, also development is hardly straight forward, there often are some slumps. Could be that Witherspoon explodes next year. Colbert might be someone who just completely overperformed last year and is just playing on his normal level this year. Hard to blame the coaches on that.

But I agree on general consensus of reviewing and adding/changing personnel on the defensive coaching staff.

I think with Colbert he is a guy that reacts very quick on what he feels is going to happen. Last year he guessed correct a lot of the time and this year he just misread a whole bunch of times and made the wrong decision. Physically he has all the tools you want but mentally he needs to take a step. I think for a guy like Colbert bringing in someone like Thomas is really helpfull. 

With Spoon i feel he started the year off bad maybe had some small injuries nagging him and also he does have a much better corner on the other side this year. Last few weeks he starts to look better but also gets called on some of the lightest PI i have seen.

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Yeah, I tend to agree with @AustrianNiner and @Forge

Saleh should be fired not for lack of development, the 4-3 under scheme (a perfectly acceptable scheme) is being called horribly. His personnel packages are downright nonsensical at times. 

Position coaches should be held accountable for player development, but so should the actual players. A point often lost by fans. I think Akhello and AC still have potential to be good players, but it was a huge misstep on the part of our defensive staff to rely on those two guys to take a step forward without a backup plan in place (could argue Ward fine as a backup..I don't think he was enough). But as Austrianniner pointed out, development is not a linear path. Guys generally speaking have to suck before they become good. Bowman, Buckner, Kittle, Sherman and Jerry Rice all started off..not great. So there's hope. 

But I'd love to see a scheme where we don't drop a NT into coverage on a semi-regular basis. 

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17 minutes ago, John232 said:

Yeah, I tend to agree with @AustrianNiner and @Forge

Saleh should be fired not for lack of development, the 4-3 under scheme (a perfectly acceptable scheme) is being called horribly. His personnel packages are downright nonsensical at times. 

Position coaches should be held accountable for player development, but so should the actual players. A point often lost by fans. I think Akhello and AC still have potential to be good players, but it was a huge misstep on the part of our defensive staff to rely on those two guys to take a step forward without a backup plan in place (could argue Ward fine as a backup..I don't think he was enough). But as Austrianniner pointed out, development is not a linear path. Guys generally speaking have to suck before they become good. Bowman, Buckner, Kittle, Sherman and Jerry Rice all started off..not great. So there's hope. 

But I'd love to see a scheme where we don't drop a NT into coverage on a semi-regular basis. 

I really only remember Earl Mitchell in coverage like one time this season. We need to get creative with our pass rush to get any sort of pressure most of the time so running a zone blitz is part of that and yeah then it can happen your NT is dropping in coverage. Besides that i don't think the packages are nonsensical we just have too many guys that basically fit best in the same role. We have like 4/5 guys that should be rushing from the inside and only have like 2 that can get any sort of pressure on the outside which makes it very hard. The 4-3 under scheme relies on getting pressure because if you don't get that on a consistent base it will get exposed because it is so zone heavy. Add to that our horrible lack of football IQ and you get what we have been getting. If our pass rush gets some kind of pressure our coverage has already blown something. Do i think Saleh is a good/great DC not yet but like someone else said for a first time DC he has a lot on his plate. We don't have a lot of experience on our defensive coaching staff something which we tried to fix last year with adding Ken Norton JR before he jetted of to the Seahawks. 

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13 hours ago, Justone2 said:

I think for a guy like Colbert bringing in someone like Thomas is really helpfull. 

I feel like the greatest influence on Colbert last year was Eric Reid. He probably communicated with him a lot more than the likes of Antone Exum or whoever possibly could. And we all remember how Reid kept his temper in check as well. I'd love a veteran at the safety position. We all know Tartt will get injured, and then Colbert will have to come in.

Can we expect Malcolm Smith to be healthy ever again? Arthritis in his Achilles? Last time I heard, arthritis doesn't improve with time. If we cut him this offseason, I think we're even, right? So let's cut off the ties, replace with another veteran who can actually play, and draft a young athletic playmaker to pair with Warner. Then let's draft a corner to compete with Spoon and Sherman (Sherman is still needed as a coach on the field). And for the love of all that's pure and Canadian, let's get a pass rusher. Or two. But at least one.

And if we have enough pass rushers that we can cut Cassius Marsh, then awesome!

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- DO NOT panic and go for a big name just for the sake of a big name.

- Move Thomas to the inside.  He strikes me as a Justin Smith type where his best work is in the interior for a 4-3(sure sure this 4-3 has elements of a 3-4 but he strikes me more as a DT.) But he can definitely add some more weight and be close to the size Brandon Mebane was in 2013.

- get FA help at Safety.  I know people are hoping for Earl Thomas but any kind of veteran stability would be nice here.

- sign the best edge rusher who will say yes to us.  IDC who just add some.  If you want to copycat Seattle you need pass rushers.  The 2013 off-season they signed Cliff Avril AND Michael Bennett to add to their pass rush.  This was with them already having Chris Clemons at DR.  Most of us thought they overpaid Bennett and Avril as well.  But it gave them a deep and deadly pass rush.  And while the talent was there in the secondary there is a lot a great pass rush can do for a secondary.

- sign a guard so we can end the shuffling on the interior o-line.

- sign some CB depth.

- assuming we pick 1 and unless we get an insane trade package RUN to the podium and select Nick Bosa.  Even if we sign multiple pass rushers just do it.  Even if for some reason Demarcus Lawrence becomes available still take Bosa.

- Use a 2nd Rounder on a bbwr(big bodied wr) to be a red zone target and a Corner who has size and can play press.  We have Sherman for a few more seasons.... might as well get someone he can mentor.

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^Honestly when they signed both Avril and Bennett, I couldn't believe they got them for what they did. Avril was a hot name but got a two year 13 mill from Seattle and Bennett signed a one year 4.8 mill contract. 

but I agree move Thomas inside. idk if he needs to add weight. He's 280?

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1 hour ago, NcFinest9erFan said:

^Honestly when they signed both Avril and Bennett, I couldn't believe they got them for what they did. Avril was a hot name but got a two year 13 mill from Seattle and Bennett signed a one year 4.8 mill contract. 

but I agree move Thomas inside. idk if he needs to add weight. He's 280?

I think Cowboy played at between 280-290, so Solly is probably just fine.

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1. Sign Jordan Hicks

2. Sign Jason Verrett

3. Sign Trey Flowers

4. Sign Bradley Roby

5. Select TWO pass-rushers within the first 3 rounds of the draft. 

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