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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports


USA Today grades 49ers’ initial free-agency moves

Mar 21, 2024 at 8:18 AM


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Nate Davis of USA Today Sports recently published his free-agency grades for each NFL team. It's been over a week since the start of the new league year, when players no longer under contract are allowed to sign with other organizations, hoping to prove to their former teams that letting them walk was a mistake. While the San Francisco 49ers didn't make any attention-grabbing additions like they did last year with the Javon Hargrave signing, they did shake things up along the defensive line.

The Niners bid farewell to their longest-tenured player, Arik Armstead, releasing him for salary cap savings and watching him sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Additionally, the team allowed Chase Young, Clelin Ferrell, and Javon Kinlaw to sign with other teams.

To offset the loss of Armstead, the team traded for Maliek Collins and signed Jordan Elliott. Hoping to improve their inconsistent pass rush in 2023, the 49ers added defensive ends Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos, signing each to two-year deals.

Furthermore, San Francisco added All-Pro linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, who should help fill in for the recovering Dre Greenlaw. Greenlaw suffered a torn Achilles in last month's Super Bowl defeat.

Davis evaluated the 49ers' moves and gave the Bay Area team a solid B grade for their efforts in the initial flurry of free-agency activity.

"With little room to maneuver, it's been fairly quiet in Silicon Valley, though the NFC champs remain loaded for bear on what could be a final all-in Super Bowl push before they have to pay QB Brock Purdy," Davis wrote. "Newly signed pass rushers Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos likely won't offset the subtraction of Armstead, Chase Young, Clelin Ferrell, Javon Kinlaw, and others on the front. But former All-Pro LB De'Vondre Campbell should be a solid stopgap until Dre Greenlaw can return."

The 49ers replaced Sam Darnold with Josh Dobbs in the quarterback room and hope they found a hidden gem with cornerback Isaac Yiadom, who is coming off an underrated 2023 campaign with the New Orleans Saints.

Davis adds, "[To be determined] if GM John Lynch still has a surprise ace up his sleeve and/or if WR Brandon Aiyuk will be extended beyond 2024."

How did Davis grade the rest of the NFC West through one week of free agency? The Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams also earned B grades, while the Seattle Seahawks earned a B-.
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