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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers 2023 Offseason Recap

Jul 24, 2023 at 3:05 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers finished the 2022 season with their third trip to the NFC Championship Game in four seasons. They rode a 12-game win streak into that matchup, falling just short of their Super Bowl goal.

Losing Brock Purdy to an injury early in the title game against the Philadelphia Eagles left the 49ers and their fans wondering what could have been. With limited salary cap space, the team entered the offseason slated to lose several key contributors. Surprisingly, San Francisco made a big splash in free agency, acquiring one of the top available defensive free agents, plucking defensive tackle Javon Hargrave away from the Eagles.

The 49ers currently own about $9.6 million in salary cap space, per Let's recap how the team's offseason played out.

Free Agency

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders), tackle Mike McGlinchey (Broncos), defensive backs Emmanuel Moseley (Lions) and Jimmie Ward (Texans), and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (Titans) were among the 14 players that departed in free agency.

Thirteen players returned this offseason, signing new deals with the 49ers. Center Jake Brendel, safety Tashaun Gipson, and defensive lineman Kerry Hyder were among them.

Twelve new faces arrived in free agency, including the biggest offseason acquisition—Hargrave. The 49ers added two new quarterbacks, Sam Darnold (Panthers) and Brandon Allen (Bengals), to the mix. Darnold is competing with former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance for the QB2 job behind Purdy.

Newcomer Isaiah Oliver is expected to jump into the nickel cornerback spot, the position manned by Ward last season.

NFL Draft

San Francisco added nine players via the draft. However, lacking first- and second-round picks, the team had to wait until the third round to make its first selection. That ended up being safety Ji'Ayir Brown.

The biggest 49ers-related storyline from the draft was a different third-round pick. Analysts heavily criticized the team for spending such a high selection on a kicker, Jake Moody. However, coaches are confident that Moody's collegiate success will transfer to the NFL, replacing longtime kicker Robbie Gould.

Below are the 49ers' nine draft picks.

New Defensive Coordinator

DeMeco Ryans coached the defense to a No. 1 ranking last season. The impressive performance earned him the head coach job with the Houston Texans. It marked the third consecutive year head coach Kyle Shanahan has lost a coordinator (Robert Saleh to the Jets in 2021, Mike McDaniel to the Dolphins in 2022).

Steve Wilks replaces Ryans, inheriting a talented unit that includes the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa, and star linebacker Fred Warner.

What can fans expect from the Wilks-run defense in 2023?

"Well, I have, number one, a very aggressive personality," Wilks shared last month. "But I think you have to be selective when you do certain things, whether it's throughout the game or each week. But I don't want to be a defense that's going to sit back and react to the offense. I want to be aggressive and have those guys react to us and sort of dictate the momentum of the game."

Biggest Offseason Storylines

The two biggest 49ers-related storylines this offseason have been the quarterback situation and Bosa's contract. The latter should be resolved soon. We'll have to wait a bit to learn the outcome of the former.

A healthy Purdy is the frontrunner to start Week 1. He underwent surgery in March to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. The good news is that Purdy is ahead of schedule in his recovery, and the 49ers are optimistic that the second-year quarterback will be ready for Week 1.

Behind Purdy is the real competition, with everyone waiting to see if Lance can keep Darnold from overtaking him on the depth chart.

"Trey Lance, I heard he made significant progress during the offseason," Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice recently said. "I saw him doing stuff with Patrick Mahomes and doing all that. It's great competition, but I think the third [QB] is going to be Sam Darnold."

With veterans reporting to training camp tomorrow, most expect the 49ers and Bosa's representatives to come to an agreement sometime soon. It is doubtful that either side wants to see the situation become a distraction in the coming weeks.

"The 49ers have certainly backed themselves into a corner," Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area recently stated. "I mean, they have said he will be with the team. I guess what else could they say? But I would expect it to get done either a day or two before the start of training camp or maybe a day or two or three after the start of training camp."

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