Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

49ers insider explains why the team has gotten worse this offseason

Apr 1, 2022 at 10:47 AM--

The NFC Championship Game featured two NFC West rivals who got to that point differently. The careful and calculated San Francisco 49ers, focusing more on the draft to build their roster and cautiously maneuvering the salary cap. The throw-caution-to-the-wind Los Angeles Rams, who seemingly spit on draft picks and use them as currency to acquire veteran talent.

The Rams edged the 49ers that day and went on to win the Super Bowl. They are the favorite to win the NFC West once again. Most expect the 49ers to be a good team, too, no matter who is lining up under center—Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo. However, many feel the gap between the two teams has widened, with the 49ers' cautious offseason approach contributing to the step back.

It doesn't help that they can't seem to get Garoppolo and his hefty salary-cap figure off the books.

"I think they're worse," Matt Barrows of The Athletic said Friday on KNBR's Murph & Mac show. "That offensive line would bother me, losing Laken Tomlinson, not really upgrading at right guard, which was a problem spot. They keep saying, 'Yeah, we think Alex Mack is coming back,' but they haven't gotten a definitive answer at center and don't really seem to have a real strong Plan B.

"Alex Mack just got married in Ireland, which is what the 49ers have kind of used as, not an excuse, but the reason why he hasn't given a full commitment."

No one is sure what happens if Mack ends up calling it a career. Maybe Daniel Brunskill slides into that spot. Perhaps the team looks to the draft for a solution. Although, head coach Kyle Shanahan seems to prefer a veteran. Former Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter is still available.

"There are three spots right in front of Trey Lance, and they're all a question mark," Barrows continued. "That's the main reason why they've gotten a little bit worse. I think they're better at cornerback. I think they did a really nice job along the defensive line, despite losing D.J. Jones and Arden Key. I think that unit is still really good with the possibility it gets better on the second day of the draft when they use their first pick. I think, defensively, they have to feel really good.

"Offensively, the foundation of that line is the question mark, and you've got a neophyte quarterback presumably taking over. That would be my worry if I'm the 49ers this offseason."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Barrows below.

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