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Three Key Defensive Free Agents to Make the 49ers Better in 2024

Mar 10, 2024 at 8:30 AM--


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Although the defense finished as one of the top defenses in 2023 under Steve Wilks, the San Francisco 49ers struggled in a few areas, like stopping the run, finishing the pass rush with sacks, and surrendering explosive plays. In this editorial, we will look to find three defensive players to keep the 49ers defense among the elite.

The 49ers have 22 players scheduled to become free agents, 12 being defensive players. The team must address the edge, interior, and cornerback positions. Improving these three areas will keep the 49ers on top.

Three defensive ends—Chase Young, Randy Gregory, and Clelin Ferrell—are set to become free agents. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), the trio totaled 74 pressures (11 sacks, 17 hits, and 46 hurries). If the 49ers want to turn a new leaf, they must address the edge position and spend some money to get Nick Bosa the proper complementary piece on the opposite side. The player that comes to mind is free-agent defensive end Bryce Huff.

In 2023, Huff's stats included 67 total pressures, seven less than the three previously mentioned. Huff had ten sacks, 12 hits, and 45 hurries. He had 15 total tackles with 16 stops and, most importantly, one missed tackle. PFF projects Huff to earn a three-year deal worth $50 million and $35 million guaranteed. Since the 49ers struggled to get to the quarterback in 2023, Huff would help fix that problem.

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The 49ers struggled against the run in 2023 (Arik Armstead costs $28.6 million, and Javon Hargrave costs $15.4 million), so expect the team to look for inexpensive run stuffers. Former third-round draft pick Derrick Nnadi from the Kansas Chiefs comes to mind as 49ers defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw and Kevin Givens test free agency.

Here's what the 49ers will get from Nnadi: he's a 317-pound run-stuffing defensive tackle. He's a Super Bowl champion. He gives good production and won't hurt the 49ers' pockets financially. Nnadi completed the 2023 season playing 500 snaps, with nine total pressures (one and eight hurries), 32 total tackles, and 14 for a loss. He's healthy and ready to help out a defensive front.

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Last but not least is the cornerback position. With Tre'Davious White released from the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers could and should make the call to White's agents. White is recovering from an Achilles injury and returning from an ACL injury the previous season. The 49ers could offer white a one-year incentive-based deal to sure up the back end of the team's defense.

When healthy, White is a lockdown corner in the NFL. His last healthy season was in 2020, where he played 878 snaps for three pressures (two sacks and a quarterback hit), 51 total tackles, 14 for a loss, gave up 34 receptions on 55 targets (61.8%) and had seven pass breakups. White and Charvarius Ward, with Deommodore Lenoir as the nickel back, could be one of the most feared secondaries in the NFL.

In conclusion, the 49ers must remain at the top and can do so with the right pieces added in free agency. Will head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch give new defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen some shiny new toys? Let the free agency frenzy begin.
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for 49erscap.com. His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
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

  • Bill
    Sign a free agent DB who suffered both an ACL tear and then an Achilles??? Who are you, Wayne? Trent Baalke in disguise? Those are Baalke-like investments. Besides, we already have a DB like that on the roster. His name is Jason Verrett. He gets injured every time he steps on grass. Great player when healthy. But he's never healthy.
    Mar 10, 2024 at 4:36 PM
    0

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