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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


49ers DT Javon Hargrave tops SI’s list of worst free-agent signings of 2023

Mar 6, 2024 at 1:20 PM


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Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave entered free agency last year as one of the most sought-after players. The San Francisco 49ers surprised many by pursuing a player of his caliber, willing to offer top dollar to lure him away from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hargrave inked a substantial four-year, $84 million contract with the 49ers. To most fans, it seemed like an attempt to rectify the team's mistake of trading away DeForest Buckner in 2020 and attempting to fill his void with Javon Kinlaw.

Despite tallying 11 sacks with the Eagles in 2022, Hargrave ended his first season with the 49ers with seven sacks, 44 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and 14 quarterback hits.

Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated compiled a ranking of the worst NFL free-agent signings of 2023, with Hargrave topping his list.

"The 49ers likely expected more from Hargrave, who signed one of the most lucrative contracts of last offseason," Manzano explained. "Hargrave had a dominant 2022 season during his last year in Philadelphia, but the 49ers' decision to add him was a gamble since he was on the wrong side of 30."

Despite Hargrave's addition, the 49ers' defensive front struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks consistently. Defensive end Nick Bosa, who led the league with 18.5 sacks in 2022, managed to surpass the 10-sack mark in 2023 but got off to a slow start and wasn't the dominant force from the previous year's effort that earned him NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Arik Armstead's impact was limited. Due to injuries, he appeared in only 12 games. After the Super Bowl, the veteran defensive tackle revealed that he played through a torn meniscus, requiring surgery.

Seeking to generate pressure opposite Bosa, the 49ers acquired Chase Young in a trade, hoping the young pass rusher would provide a boost. However, the 49ers finished the season with a pressure percentage of 21.0, ranking 17th in the NFL.

Manzano concluded, "Hargrave and the 49ers' stacked defensive line disappointed in '23."
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