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5 49ers players who could see their replacement drafted

Rohan Chakravarthi
Apr 19, 2023 at 2:50 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers have looked to remain competitive over the past couple of seasons by drafting players to fill voids down the road, such as Aaron Banks, who filled in for Laken Tomlinson after his departure in free agency, and Talanoa Hufanga, who filled in for Jaquiski Tartt after the 49ers let him go.

With a strong core of players for the upcoming season, the 49ers may be in a position to utilize the strategy in the 2023 NFL Draft, especially given that their draft begins in the third round, where they may not find many Day 1 starters.

With that said, here are five 49ers players who could see their replacement drafted.

TE George Kittle

George Kittle has been an integral piece of the 49ers' core since he broke out in 2018, serving well as both a blocker and receiver for the run-heavy offense.

Additionally, with the value of 21 personnel rising in the NFL, the 49ers have looked into finding a second option to Kittle, to no avail.

That certainly could be fixed in the 2023 NFL Draft, where the group of tight ends is one of the deepest classes in recent years, and assistant general manager Adam Peters has openly praised the overall class, signifying San Francisco's interest in selecting one,

However, with Kittle's contract seeing substantial increases in cap hits, the 49ers could move off the tight end next offseason to solve financial issues that may stem after extending defensive end Nick Bosa.

With a strong tight end class, the 49ers could initially look to get a complement for Kittle before becoming his eventual successor at the position.

WR Deebo Samuel

Deebo Samuel is an intriguing case because the 49ers recently extended him to a three-year deal, and it'll be tough to move off his contract sooner than later.

However, it'll be tough to keep both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel through the entirety of their extensions, and I predict the 49ers will retain Aiyuk on a long-term deal.

While it would be feasible to keep both top receivers on Aiyuk's first year of his extension in 2024, it likely becomes tougher in 2025, which is when a move could be made for Samuel to save cap space.

Although it is two years away, the 49ers could look to draft a receiver and develop them to eventually take over Samuel's spot on the outside as the No. 2 receiver.

Additionally, both Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud are free agents next season, and while Danny Gray could fill a spot, the 49ers would still need receiver depth, which is where a draftee could come in handy.

Colton McKivitz

The 49ers re-signed McKivitz to a two-year deal worth $5.8 million, although they can get out of the contract after one year with a dead cap hit of $584,000.

At the moment, San Francisco has placed confidence in McKivitz to potentially start in 2023, however; they haven't ruled out adding competition, which could come via the draft in a fairly solid class at tackle.

The 49ers have an option for 2023, but McKivitz is unproven and likely not the long-term solution at right tackle, which is why the 49ers could look to select their guy for the future and have him compete this offseason to eventually take over at the position.

Tashaun Gipson

It was good news for the 49ers when safety Tashaun Gipson announced his intentions to return for another season, as the team was able to keep their starting safety tandem together in the veteran and Talanoa Hufanga for another season.

But, it's unknown how much longer Gipson will play in the NFL, which means the 49ers could look for a solution at the position for the future, even if they haven't valued safety much in the draft in the past.

With a solid safety class, the 49ers could find themselves with a starting-caliber option in the third round, who could then take a Talanoa Hufanga-esque path to the starting rotation in a year. Then, San Francisco would have two cost-controlled options at the position.

Zane Gonzalez

The San Francisco 49ers found a kicking option when they swapped 2025 seventh-round selections for kicker Zane Gonzalez from the Carolina Panthers.

Gonzalez, who spent all of 2022 recovering from an injury, had a strong season in 2021, and is on a $1.8 million salary for 2022 with zero dead money attached to the deal.

Prior to the trade, general manager John Lynch admitted that the team was evaluating kickers in the draft, and the 49ers most definitely could draft one to compete with the veteran Gonzalez in the offseason, potentially finding a cost-effective solution for the next four seasons at a position that has been expensive for them over the past few years.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

1 Comment

  • BigAl
    The 49ers SB window is now. They cant be messing around with below average RBs in the 3rd round or some RT who wont be any better in pass protection than Mcglinchey was. I think its BPA, ideally trading up. And to me theres a good chance thats a TE. Theres 2 main reasons for this but an athletic 2nd TE would put a new ceiling on this offense. Heres the thing. Teams around the NFL arent built to stop multiple TE sets. With the right 2nd TE you can equally run or pass and its still a mismatch. It binds the defense to choose between a nickel or 3rd LB. Even more to this point is if Lance is the QB. A running QB with extra blockers out there is always an advantage. This is exactly how Lamar Jackson won MVP in 2019. They just mauled people. So while its not the most popular take, a 2nd TE can replace Juice and do even more within the offense. I think
    Apr 19, 2023 at 3:13 PM


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