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Roster Analysis: Before the Draft and Free Agency

There's been a big lull lately in terms of Niners news or really any football news in general, so I wanted to bring up the state of the roster now and take a look at who I believe should stay or should go before we head into free agency and then the draft. As well, I wanted to assess the level of talent, based on what we've seen so far from these guys.

The 49ers have 22 free agents total, but not many that would net us much, if any, compensation if they left us (depending on what we do in FA as well). Starting with our FA list, here's how I'd break it down:

Let them walk: Players Who Should Go
QB Blaine Gabbert - His leadership may be strong, but his play isn't. Ponder is a cheaper backup option, if we want him.
QB Christian Ponder - Any reserve QB I feel should be either a developmental guy or someone who knows the system.
QB Thad Lewis - See above.
TE Jim Dray - We should target the draft and FA for new blood at TE.
WR Quinton Patton - Can't stay healthy. Unproductive. Maybe he'd be better with Kyle, but we need fresh faces at WR.
WR Rod Streater - He did show a little ability in limited action, but not enough for me to warrant keeping in the mix.
OG Andrew Gardner - I would rather add new-comers in the draft and free agency to compete.
DL Tony Jerod-Eddie - He's all but been completely phased out. His time is up here. Bring in new blood at DL.
DL Mike Purcell - I agree with Tim Ryan, Purcell is garbage. Pre-season star, regular season dud in every way.


Re-sign them: Players Who Should Stay
RB Shaun Draughn - Re-sign for camp competition, only because he's worked with Shanahan before in Cleveland in 2014. Cut after camp.
RB DuJuan Harris - I like Harris. Don't know there's room on the 90 for him if we add RB help, but he's a solid #3 RB.
WR Jeremy Kerley - He needs to be back here. Kerley made tons plays for us last year and would at minimum be valuable depth.
LB Gerald Hodges - Struggled early, but once he got consistent playing time he produced. Also versatile and a solid 4-3 fit.
OG Andrew Tiller - Doesn't have the quickness (yet) to play in Shanahan's scheme, but tender him low so we don't lose him for nothing.
DL Chris Jones - Proved his worth in limited time. Earned a shot to at least compete in TC.
DL Glenn Dorsey - Will help stop the run and mentor whoever we draft on DL. Injury prone, but that'll lower his price.
CB Chris Davis - Adds TC competition. Tender him low. If we lose him, oh well, we have multiple CBs who can play the slot.
CB/S Marcus Cromartie - Tender him low. Adds TC competition.
K Phil Dawson - We have the money, may as well keep a good kicker around unless we really like someone younger.


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Players who are signed beyond this off-season:
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OFFENSE

QB: Colin Kaepernick
Analysis: I don't want to be fooled by the inflated numbers from Chip Kelly's system. I still don't see CK as the answer. Frankly, I want to move on and I really hope Shanahan and Lynch do too. Start fresh, please.

RB: Carlos Hyde, Mike Davis
Analysis: Hyde is a high-end running back when healthy, but rarely is he healthy. We need double-insurance behind him in my opinion. Davis? Two years and hardly a flash of anything from him. As a former 4th rounder, he may not make the team in 2017.

WR: Torrey Smith, Aaron Burbridge, Chris Harper, Bruce Ellington, DeAndre Smelter, Eric Rogers
Analysis: Baalke brought in a bunch of unproven players last year hoping someone rose up. No one did, and now we're left with one decent veteran receiver under contract, a 2nd year guy who will have his work cut out for him to make the team, a nobody, and three players with injury issues. The team should invest resources in multiple WRs this off-season, specifically players with talent to start in the NFL.

TE: Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Blake Bell, Je'Ron Hamm
Analysis: One of the only areas we're OK in right now. McDonald finally showed us he deserves to be here, and Celek and Hamm were OK in backup duty. Bell's development seemed to completely stop, though, and we could still certainly upgrade the #2 TE spot with another explosive player to pair with McDonald in addition to being insurance in case he gets hurt again.

OT: Joe Staley, Trenton Brown, Jon Theus, Norman Price
Analysis: This is a rock solid group. We'll see how Theus continues to develop but the I think we still need to look at a more athletic prospect as a potential swing tackle backup. Brown showed he could handle the left side in a pinch, but it was a tad puzzling seeing the team elect to play Beadles at LT instead of Theus at first. Theus is no lock to make the roster depending on who we bring in this off-season at OT.

C/OG: Daniel Kilgore, Zane Beadles, Marcus Martin, Joshua Garnett, Alex Balducci
Analysis: A critic of the Garnett pick, his early struggles were no surprise to me. At the same time, he was a rookie so you can only hope he improves -- he's a great fit in the new system we'll bring so we'll see what happens. The day Martin gets cut the team will improve immediately -- addition by subtraction -- as he has been hurt frequently and sucked anytime he's been healthy. Kilgore is another player struggling with health lately and it's clear we need help at C more competition at OG. Beadles is an OK player who knows the zone-blocking scheme and he's versatile, so he should stick around at least as depth.


DEFENSE

DE: (Adjusted for 4-3) Arik Armstead, Aaron Lynch, Ronald Blair, Zach Moore, Tank Carradine, Eli Harold
Analysis: If Lynch could drop his weight I think he could be a much more consistent force on the line and would probably be healthier as well. Armstead is vastly underrated here, but I think when healthy those who are skeptics will likely change their stance. Blair looks promising early on, but Eli Harold sure doesn't. I've been done with Carradine for awhile and I would like him gone. Either way, we definitely need help on the edge.

DT: DeForest Buckner, Quinton Dial, Chris Jones
Analysis: Buckner is a young star, and Dial is just a guy.. a body in there.. good enough to not get cut, but really just a decent backup.

CB: Tramaine Brock, Rashard Robinson, Will Redmond, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reasor, Prince Charles Iworah, JaCorey Shepherd
Analysis: I think if Robinson builds on what he started in year one, we'll be in good shape. I wouldn't mind adding another corner to the mix for extra competition or to push Brock to the slot, but I think with a better pass rush, the combo of Brock/Robinson/Reasor/Redmond will be a rock solid group. If we don't land a new starter in 2017, we could always look at upgrades next year.

OLB: Ray Ray Armstrong, Ahmad Brooks, Wynton McManis
Analysis: Yeah, we've got nothing here. Armstrong's history in the 4-3 was not good -- he's a better fit inside in the 3-4, Brooks is getting worse the more he ages and McManis was an UDFA last year. We desperately need to sign and draft some playmakers at OLB this year.

MLB: Navorro Bowman
Analysis: Armstrong is the only other player with MLB experience under contract after Bowman, who's coming off an achilles tear. We should re-sign Hodges to backup Bowman and look for additional insurance this off-season as well.

S: Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea, Jimmie Ward, Jacquiski Tartt, Vinnie Sunseiri, Marcus Ball
Analysis: Reid was playing out of position a lot, but you have to wonder if his play also shows he's concerned about another concussion ending his career. An aging Bethea is not going to work in this new scheme, we need speed and heavy hitting in the back end, so we should trade him if we can. Ward has the range to make plays so I'd give him a shot as a starter while keeping Tartt as a reserve and drafting for the future at this position in 2017.


Concluding comments: It's no secret this roster is thin and far away from competing, but the pieces we need should be there by year three if we build this right. We know this won't be a quick fix, but I'll admit it's not totally out of question that the team surprises people in year two if they get lucky.
[ Edited by OnTheClock on Feb 17, 2017 at 6:59 AM ]
Nice work.
Not sure if anyone will trade for Bethea though.
Also, if they are still around, I think Brooks and Harold are likely to flip positions on that list.
Excellent Post man!
I say wild card this year and NFC Championship in year two
[ Edited by djgtek on Feb 16, 2017 at 3:37 PM ]
Originally posted by zonkers:
Nice work.
Not sure if anyone will trade for Bethea though.
Also, if they are still around, I think Brooks and Harold are likely to flip positions on that list.

We'll see what they do, but Brooks has played linebacker his entire career whether it was 4-3 or 3-4 and Harold played DE in college. At a bulked up 265, I figure he's moved onto the line.
Originally posted by LasVegasWally:
Excellent Post man!

This. Great job & can't wait to see the new pieces in action this year
Great post OTC.

Mostly agree with the who should walk and who should re-sign. Tiller is a RFA iirc, and I'd at least tender him bring camp to compete for a spot. I don't think he has the footspeed for this scheme, but he's been our best guard 2 years in a row and should get a shot to prove us wrong. Kerley and Hodges I'd like to re-sign and be part of the 53. The rest of the guys can be re-signed with the hope they all get beat out by better players.

Definitely need to start fresh at QB. Bring in 2 FA's, 1 drafted QB, and 1 UDFA QB. 4 players brought to camp.

At WR I want to see something like this going into camp:

X: Torrey Smith
Z: Free Agent
Y: Kerley
4th: Draft Pick

The Final 2 spots is a free for all between Burbridge, Smelter, Ellington, Rogers, Harper, and whoever else we bring in.

Defensively I can see how some of the existing parts can work in this defense. We need to focus on adding pass rushers and speed at linebacker. I agree with you Carradine. I'm done with him and don't see his fit. He's not explosive enough for LEO. He doesn't play the run well enough for strong side end. He can't function in space. He doesn't do well as an interior pass rusher. He's just not a good player. Move on.

Secondary has some good players. See how the draft board shakes out, if theres a single-high safety available grab him. Keep an eye out for bigger, longer corners who can press.
There's a lot of work. But our cap space and draft picks could spark a quick turnaround. Ol and DB groups while it couldn't to maybe add some more pieces are rock solid groups with vets and young potential. The rest could use a lot more depth and talent though.
Originally posted by djgtek:
I say wild card this year and NFC Championship in year two

I'll be happy if we go 7-9 this year.
Originally posted by gold49digger:
There's a lot of work. But our cap space and draft picks could spark a quick turnaround. Ol and DB groups while it couldn't to maybe add some more pieces are rock solid groups with vets and young potential. The rest could use a lot more depth and talent though.

I say playoffs year 3 should be the goal. Possibly year 2 if we absolutely crush it starting from now. Need to find that franchise QB, get playmakers on offense, add speed and pass rushers on defense....there's a lot that needs to be done.
Originally posted by SofaKing:
Originally posted by gold49digger:
There's a lot of work. But our cap space and draft picks could spark a quick turnaround. Ol and DB groups while it couldn't to maybe add some more pieces are rock solid groups with vets and young potential. The rest could use a lot more depth and talent though.

I say playoffs year 3 should be the goal. Possibly year 2 if we absolutely crush it starting from now. Need to find that franchise QB, get playmakers on offense, add speed and pass rushers on defense....there's a lot that needs to be done.

Yeah finding that QB should be top priority. It's a lot to swallow but we have tons of assets. Thank God for cheap baalke and money all paraag lol.
Holy s**t do we need some help in FA.
Originally posted by VaBeachNiner:
Holy s**t do we need some help in FA.

2nd most cap space in the league, absolutely no reason not bring in some talent via FA. We need it badly. Don't have to go crazy, and don't have to land the top guy, but we need some proven talent. Make the right moves in FA and the draft for 2 years and we can quickly rebound.
Good post.

Other than QB what dobyou think our biggest need is?
OTC...absolutely love posts like this...thank you.

With $97M and top 2 picks, it's all about impact players...impact players...impact players!

Add a FQB, WR, C, ER & ILB to the current starters and we can be competitive quickly. Secondary needs are FB, NT & CB (free agency: DiMarco-Juszczyk-Williams-Poe-Bouye-Ryan).

The depth will still lack though no matter what so any injuries are really going to hamper us...again.

I think the defense can take some big steps this year with a few personnel changes and acquisitions...especially because of a more simplified scheme allowing for players to play more and think less.

Kyle will lay the WCO foundation and scheme the best he can with what we've got in year 1.
[ Edited by NCommand on Feb 16, 2017 at 5:14 PM ]
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