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49ers mailbag: What are the latest free agency moves? Could Arik Armstead still return to SF? Who will be the second starting DT?

Marc Adams
Mar 13, 2024 at 10:30 AM--

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As we move into the new NFL year, the San Francisco 49ers have been making moves. There have been new additions to the team, and there have been departures. You can keep up with the latest 49ers roster changes here at 49ers Webzone.

So far, the 49ers have added:

I can't help but notice that all these players are on defense. Does this mean the 49ers will go heavy on offense during the draft? Perhaps. We'll see how the rest of free agency goes.

More moves will come, and in fact, more may have happened by the time you're reading this. But for now, let's get into the 49ers Webzone Mailbag and see what questions you have.

Do you concur that the OL, particularly RT & C, requires upgrading to make that next step in the offense? And if so, what do you think is the most likely route to address it, given FA market & our draft picks? - SportyMiner

Yes, and I would add a guard to the mix. If the 49ers were able to bring back Jon Feliciano or Laken Tomlinson, then I would focus more on tackle and center. But if not, then I want to see the 49ers find an upgrade at right guard.

As far as where they will address these needs, I would like to see a veteran center that is better than Jake Brendel. Not that Brendel is bad, I just think the 49ers can do better. When San Francisco has had issues with the offensive line, it's been at right tackle, or it's been right up the gut. So making the interior of the offensive line stronger would be a big thing.

I think the team will address the tackle position in the draft. They have Colton McKivitz for another couple of years, but if they can upgrade that spot, as well, then the offensive line could become a strength rather than a weakness.

Is it possible for the Niners to trade AA rather than cut him? Not saying he has a market, but the news of being a cap cut could open the door for a trade right? - Miles

At this point, teams are expecting Arik Armstead to be released. And unless he agrees to a massive pay cut by 1:00 PM (pacific time), he will be released today. He's free to shop his services to other teams, so no team will give up draft capital when they can get him without surrendering picks. The exception would be if Armstead were a young, more in-demand player. Then perhaps a team would be willing to trade for him to be sure they can land him. But I don't see that happening.

Reportedly, there are multiple teams interested in Armstead. So I would be surprised if he stayed in San Francisco. Especially because the 49ers just traded for Collins. That probably means Armstead is gone.

Without Kyle Juszczyk, the offense gets knocked down a few notches and playoff-Super Bowl expectation is in jeopardy. - Matt P.

I would agree that the offense is not as good without Kyle Juszczyk. And there's still a chance he will be back with the team. But even if they lose him, I don't think the loss is so great that the 49ers could miss the playoffs. They would still be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

But it would be easier with him than it would be without him. Fortunately, he just agreed to a new deal, so the Pro Bowl fullback will be staying in San Francisco.

With this being such a deep wide receiver draft, have the 49ers considered trading either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk to free additional cap space? - Marcus C.

I'm sure they have had discussions about trading Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. But I still think both players will be with the team in 2024. I would expect an extension to be completed for Aiyuk, and for Samuel to be running through defenses (with his new jersey number) for the 49ers this coming season. Now, 2025 is a different story. This may be Samuel's last season in San Francisco.

What part of the NFL free agency frenzy with stupid money contracts being handed out entertains you and which part annoys you? This can be about the 49ers or the entire league. - Ed H.

I don't like when the 49ers give big contracts to players who don't live up to the contract. And I don't like it when other NFC West teams make good moves. So far, there have been some NFC teams that have made some good moves. Some of these moves could make it even harder for the 49ers to get back to the Super Bowl.

Beyond that, I don't usually care what other teams are doing. If teams want to pay big money that straps them with cap issues down the road, or if they want to pay a lot to a player who isn't that good, I think that's funny. Especially if it's a team I don't care for.

The Front Office has shown they aren't afraid to part ways with stars in order to maintain a top team (e.g. Buckner). AA, ironically, may now be out. Given the salaries of Trent W, Deebo, Kittle & future extension of Aiyuk, amongst others, who is at the most risk of a cut/trade to save money? - SportyMiner

If we're not including Armstead, then I would say Aiyuk. But I still don't believe he's going anywhere. The 49ers aren't getting rid of George Kittle this season, and as I mentioned already, I don't believe they will trade Samuel either.

Outside of the two we know they've approached, Armstead or Juszczyk, I wouldn't anticipate any other stars being traded or released this offseason.

True or false: Need at least a top DB in free agency. - Dominic L.

I'm going to say false. I don't know that the 49ers necessarily need to sign a top defensive back in free agency. I think they will sign someone, but it may not be a top guy. I also think they will draft a corner, and maybe a safety. They certainly need a nickel corner.

Can we get DJ Jones or Joey Bosa? - Phillip J.

I would like to have seen the 49ers sign D.J. Jones. There were rumors he would be released, but 49ers reporter, Mike Silver, says he believes the Broncos will not release him. If that's the case, a trade is the only way the 49ers could bring Jones back to Santa Clara. But with the 49ers trading for Collins, I wouldn't expect Jones to return.

I don't believe Joey Bosa will be a target for the 49ers. He has missed too many games over the past two seasons.

Who is going to be the #2 DT? Do you draft the next LT this year or wait till Trent retires? Is the next FB already on the roster? With 11 draft picks, do the 49ers trade up, trade out of this draft for picks next year, or really try and add 11 rookies? (I'd like to see them get younger)? Who is the most likely trade candidate before the season starts? Thanks! - William S.

  • Who will be the number two defensive tackle? I would think Collins will be the guy, but we'll see what else happens.
  • Will the 49ers draft the next left tackle or wait until after Trent Williams retires? They won't replace Williams with anyone in the draft this year, but I would expect them to draft a tackle.
  • Is the next fullback already on the roster? Juszczyk is still with the 49ers. But his replacement, whenever that becomes necessary, is not.
  • Will the 49ers trade up, trade out of this draft for picks next year, or try and add 11 rookies? Likely all of the above.

Which should we get in free agency and which during the draft: secondary and OL? - Abatch H.

It wouldn't surprise if they addressed the offensive line and the secondary in free agency and the draft. We know they have met with corners and safeties as they prepare for the draft. And they've reportedly met with at least one safety in free agency. With Talanoa Hufanga coming off his torn ACL, and with Tashaun Gipson likely moving on, they will need safety help.

Safety George Odum is returning to the 49ers. He's an elite special-teamer, and has led the league in special teams tackles over the past two seasons. Odum can also provide some depth at safety. I don't know that this rules out another safety in free agency, but it makes it less likely.

Juszczyk might take the pay cut, but my question is, if Armstead refused to take a pay cut at 17 million, will he get that from another team? - Brad A.

That's the question that we will soon find out. Armstead is coming off multiple injuries and has missed a lot of time in the past two seasons. I doubt any team will pay what he wants. But it sounds like there are some teams interested in him.

Will the Niners hire a new ST Coach? An area where they could improve, IMO. - WinsLombardi

Brian Schneider is still the 49ers special teams coordinator. And since they haven't made a change there yet, I would assume he will be with the team for at least another season. Schneider's first season, in 2022, wasn't too bad. The previous season, the 49ers special teams unit was one of the worst in the league, so any improvement in 2022 was going to look good.

But in 2023, Schneider's unit took a step back, and there were some issues in the Super Bowl. One of those was when Ray-Ray McCloud failed to recover the punt that went off the leg of Darrell Luter, Jr. That was a turning point in the game, and you can make the argument that it may have cost them a sixth Lombardi. But it was a fluky play, so do you put that on Schneider? I don't know.

Still, the special team's unit has to be better in 2024, or there might be a change there. Having Odum return will help.

That's all we have for this week's edition of the 49ers Webzone Mailbag. We'll be back in a couple of weeks.
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.

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