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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers insider offers optimistic view of offseason: “They didn’t lose any superstars”

Mar 22, 2023 at 8:12 AM--

Change is inevitable in the NFL. Free agency can often mean drastic change. For the San Francisco 49ers, it meant the departure of 12 unrestricted free agents who found new homes with teams willing to pay them more for their services.

"[W]hile I am happy for them and their families, I am also sad to be losing some of my closest friends for the last 5 years," tight end George Kittle posted on Instagram, discussing the initial flurry of roster activity at the start of the new league year.

While there were more exits than arrivals, San Francisco added one big-name free agent—defensive lineman Javon Hargrave. It's a move that bolsters the interior of a unit that includes Arik Armstead and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa while possibly admitting failure in replacing DeForest Buckner.

The Philadelphia Eagles lost several starters this offseason, including Hargrave to the 49ers. No one will be counting them out in 2023, though. That's because, unlike San Francisco, they have a better sense of what they have at the quarterback position with a still-rising Jalen Hurts.

Meanwhile, the 49ers enter the 2023 offseason with two quarterbacks returning from injuries, one of which won't be full-go until sometime in September, and newly acquired Sam Darnold.

"I'd say [the 49ers] have a better roster all in all," Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area said on KNBR's Tolbert and Copes show. "But the Eagles have a huge advantage at the quarterback position because, at this point, there are a lot more unanswered questions than answers when it comes to the 49ers' quarterback situation."

Trey Lance enters his third NFL season, and San Francisco still doesn't really know what they have in the 22-year-old. Brock Purdy is returning from a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow, a serious injury. Darnold has never really lived up to being the No. 3 overall pick in 2018.

Despite the uncertainty at the most critical position in football, Maiocco is optimistic about the team's offseason moves thus far.

"For as many guys as the 49ers lost in free agency, they didn't lose any superstars," the 49ers insider explains. "They lost some guys who got paid. They didn't lose any superstars, but they added a superstar."

The team still has Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, and other big-name players.

"I think of the comings and goings, the best player of the comings and goings for the 49ers this offseason is Javon Hargrave, and he's coming," Maiocco continued. "So that's a huge boost to that defensive line, a defensive line that's lost a lot of players but gained one really significant piece."

As for the other departing pieces, the 49ers can fill some of those holes next month. While the team owns 11 draft picks, none come before the end of the third round. The 49ers insider rattled off a long list of team needs, areas where the depth chart could be bolstered. That includes the defensive line, offensive line, cornerback, safety, tight end, and linebacker.

"They've got 11 draft picks," Maiocco said. "I'm not saying that they're going to end up using all 11 of those picks. They have an opportunity to package some of those and move up a little bit, but they can kind of tick off a lot of those needs, maybe those down-the-road needs in this draft."

Maiocco added, "There will be opportunities for guys to make the team lower in the draft, and there will be opportunities, obviously, practice squad, for guys to stick around and for them to develop."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Maiocco below.


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