The dust has not yet completely settled over the 49ers’ off-season, but the chances are good that they are done with most of the important moves they are going to make.
We do not have a complete picture of what their grid will look like, as the concept could cause some pretty significant shakes. However, we know with the big free agency waves done that the 49ers have a handful of starting lanes at stake going into the off-season program.
Let’s see what top positions are open and what the team’s options are to fill those holes:
Laeken Tomlinson’s exit in free agency opened the left-wing post. San Francisco does not have an immediate replacement based on what we saw on the list a season ago. Aaron Banks, a second-round pick in last year’s draft, should be in the mix and could be the frontrunner for the post if he played anything more than a handful of special team recordings as a rookie. Another pick from last year’s draft pick, Jaylon Moore, should also compete for the starting LG spot since the club lined him up to play inside. It would not be a big surprise to see the 49ers still hold on to a domestic attacking linebacker in this year’s draft to compete for a starting position.
Last year’s starting right guard Daniel Brunskill should be back, but he will not get the right guard post. Banks and Moore will get opportunities, just like any draft pick. Colton McKivitz is another name to watch. The 2020 pick in the fifth round was the swing suit a season ago, but he was thinking of kicking inside when the 49ers picked him. There is a chance that he will find a house there next year with two jobs open.
Last year’s starting nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams went to Denver in free agency, but the 49ers have a few options to replace him. They could move Emmanuel Moseley inside with second-year cornerback Ambry Thomas sliding into sub-packages at the evacuated outfield. Second-year CB Deommodore Lenoir will also fight for the post, along with veteran Darqueze Dennard. Many of their inside decisions can be determined by how well Thomas plays and whether they feel confident in putting Moseley in the slot with another outside corner in a defense package that will be on the field about three-quarters of the time.
DJ Jones leaving in free agency is not ideal, but the 49ers have a string of bodies to replace him on the inside. Javon Kinlaw should be back and healthy after ACL surgery ended his 2021 early. Maurice Hurst and Kevin Givens can both play that place as well. Ideally for San Francisco, it would be Kinlaw popping up as the top nose option, but Hurst, Givens and possibly another draft pick or two would also provide competition for the starting position.
It looks like Jaquiski Tartt is on his way to free agency and the 49ers have put together a string of players who could possibly replace him. Talanoa Hufanga almost certainly won strong safety work from the camp last year. Tarvarius Moore is returning from an Achilles tear, and he was on course to start at SS before that off-season injury derailed him. The free agent George Odum will also be in the mix. However, his contributions appear to be more on special teams. San Francisco can also set up a security early to fit in as an appetizer.
Like it or not, it’s a question mark as long as Jimmy Garoppolo stays on the roster. If he’s on the roster to go into training camp, there will be a QB fight and the 49ers will have some decisions to make.