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Roster Analysis: From Loser to Contender & How to Sustain It in 2020 and Beyond

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In last year's Team Needs & Roster Analysis thread, we discussed the state of the team and what we would need to do to get into contention. The needs below were listed in that post as our top areas to target. This is how we got to where we are this year:

1. Edge Rusher - Check. Added Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Damontre Moore.
2. Red Zone WR - Check (sort of). Jalen Hurd looked like that guy in limited PS action. Bourne has developed into that role.
3. Single High FS - Check. Moore back to safety, shined until Ward was healthy. Ward has stayed healthy and effective.
4. OG - Check. Brunskill and Garland added depth to the position.
5. SAM - Check. Added Dre Greenlaw.
6. RB - Check. Added Tevin Coleman and increased PT for Mostert.
7. LT - Check. Skule played admirably, and Brunskill has played great. We are in good shape here going forward.
8. TE - Half-check. We drafted Kaden Smith, but lost him to NYG after injuries forced us to move players around. We did bring in Toilolo, but he's been inactive half the time and offers little receiving help. Helm is an UDFA rookie who is an unknown right now.

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In 2020 and beyond, we'll work to sustain the success we've achieved this year. We've got to keep the quality of the roster as high as we can. That means retaining as much high quality talent as we can afford, while simultaneously pushing out low quality personnel and looking for low-cost replacements. The players listed below add the least value to our team:

Lowest Quality Starters:
RG Mike Person, C Ben Garland

Lowest Quality Reserves:
DT Sheldon Day, SS Marcell Harris, DE Jeremiah Valoaga, LB Azeez Al-Shaair/Elijah Lee, TE Levin Toilolo/Daniel Helm, WR Marquise Goodwin/Richie James/Dante Pettis

Top Off-Season Needs in 2020:

1. Interior OL
We have no way of knowing how well Richburg will recover. Garland and Person are the worst graded OL on the team right now. It won't matter what our WRs are if can't protect long enough to stretch the defense vertically. Far too many times have we not been able to hit big plays because the line didn't sustain blocks long enough. It's not always been the IOL's fault, but in both the run and pass games, Person seems like the weakest link among the original starters. Solid, but unspectacular, and no upside at this point. Same with Garland, except Garland has a tendency to get beat REALLY bad more often than the others on the OL. He's a rollercoaster. Part of me wonders if we would re-sign Coleman for cheap and use Skule as an OT/OG hybrid to further boost depth here.

2. Linebacker
Elijah Lee was a practice squad guy for a reason. He is bad both on defense and special teams, if you haven't noticed. Al Shaair is decent on STs but gets abused repeatedly on defense as well. They're both UDFAs, so it's not like it's a surprise. But the team has to continue to shore up this position. We are paper thin and nowhere near prepared to handle even a single injury to one of the top three starting LBs.

3. Safety
While we met this need in the short-term, when you look beyond this year, it rears its ugly head again. While I still believe in Moore, his flaws he showed in limited action should still give the team enough reason to look for quality competition. I think Ward will want to come back, but he's no lock to do so, and Tartt would become a FA after next season. Harris is a horrendous tackler and a liability in coverage, so the team at minimum needs to add someone who can be a legitimate challenger to either safety spot this off-season. A hybrid FS/SS would be terrific.

4. Pass Rusher
Specifically, we need a speed rusher. The reason this one is not higher, is because our DE depth was NOT bad. The problem is, through no fault of his own, Thomas is being forced to play DE again due to injuries, and Valoaga for the same reason was called up as our 5th string DE now. Our depth was quality, it just all got hurt. Next to no team can handle losing their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd string DEs all in succession and expect to keep experiencing the same results from the squad. Step one: bring back Moore and Blair. Step two: give them a challenger at DE that forces Thomas permanently inside for 2020, or a less-likely scenario: to be cut or traded (roughly $4.5 dead money but $4.5 cap room).

5. Receiver
Without spending any money at all, the team would bring back one former starter (Trent Taylor) and another guy who was expected to be a red-zone threat, offensive chess piece, and possibly start down the road too (Hurd). The return of Taylor and Hurd helps, but the level of need at WR depends on whether or not we re-sign Sanders. If we do, I would not be shocked at all if the team took the approach they did with CBs and didn't invest a high pick, but developed who they had, and hoped for better health overall. If we can't bring back Sanders, we will have to find upgrades at the #5-6 WR spots, ideally finding guys who also upgrade the return game over James and Pettis.

6. Tight End
Dwelley still has a ways to go, and we lost our promising prospect Kaden Smith. Time to look for another power blocking TE that we can rely on for additional depth at the TE3 spot.

Non-Needs: CB & DT
The team has Moseley's rights locked up for at least 2 more years. It seems obvious they would extend Sherman and/or Witherspoon too. Reed is not bad at all as a dime back and let's not forget Tim Harris who looked solid in limited pre-season action. Not sure if we'll re-sign K'Waun Williams, but we have the depth to fill the gap even if we don't. Day doesn't seem like he's worth re-signing, but I think the team has faith in a healthy Jullian Taylor and I'm sure they want to see what Street can do inside. That's already 3-deep on the interior. Of course there's Thomas, as disappointing as he is overall, but is still moderately serviceable along the IDL. Add in Kevin Givens and you've got a lot of developmental potential here that doesn't cost you much of anything. We should be good at this position.

Going into the 2020 off-season, this is what our roster would look like before the draft if we tendered all our key ERFA/RFAs, re-sign AA, re-signed Ward, Blair, Moore, and Shonn Coleman to cheap deals, and then gave Sanders a decent deal while cutting Goodwin.

QB: Garoppolo, Mullens, Beathard
RB: Breida, Mostert, Coleman, McKinnon, Juice
TE: Kittle, Dwelley, Helm
WR: Sanders, Samuel, Bourne, Hurd, Taylor, Pettis, James
OT: Staley, McGlinchey, Skule, Brunskill, Coleman
C: Richburg
OG: Person, Tomlinson, Reynolds
DE: Ford, Bosa, Blair, Moore, Armstead, Valoaga
DT: Buckner, Jones, Taylor, Street, Givens, Thomas
LB: Warner, Alexander, Greenlaw, Lee, Al-Shaair, Nzeocha
CB: Sherman, Witherspoon, Williams, Moseley, Reed, Harris
S: Ward, Moore, Tartt, Harris

Bottom Line: Now that we've rebuilt the team into a contender, we *must* draft higher quality depth pieces who can become low-cost replacements down the line whenever we reach the point where we cannot afford to keep certain high-priced veterans.
[ Edited by OnTheClock on Dec 20, 2019 at 12:41 PM ]
This is the same problem every team has. Every year you lose players and get players. You lose cohesiveness, especially on defense.

ex...
The 2012 super bowl secondary was whitner, goldson, rogers and brown.
in just 2 years 2014 it was bethae, reid, cox and culliver.

Hard to maintain any integrity with that kind of turnover.
[ Edited by Curlin on Dec 20, 2019 at 11:32 AM ]
Originally posted by Curlin:
This is the same problem every team has. Every year you lose players and get players. You lose cohesiveness, especially on defense.

ex...
The 2012 super bowl secondary was whitner, goldson, rogers and brown.
in just 2 years 2014 it was bethae, reid, cox and culliver.

Hard to maintain any integrity with that kind of turnover.

Yep, eventually, every team is faced with a tough decision of which high-priced player will they have to say goodbye to. I think right now, the Niners might believe they already have a lost cost replacement at RG for next year (Brunskill) and/or LT in 2 years (Brunskill/Skule) or sooner, depending on when Joe retires. I think they'll ride out Sherman's success as long as they can there, too, knowing they have E-man and Witherspoon.

Until then, we have to work to replace the depth pieces with developmental guys who have starter-level traits and hope they are ready by the time they're needed to replace high-cost former starters we couldn't retain.
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
Yep, eventually, every team is faced with a tough decision of which high-priced player will they have to say goodbye to. I think right now, the Niners might believe they already have a lost cost replacement at RG for next year (Brunskill) and/or LT in 2 years (Brunskill/Skule) or sooner, depending on when Joe retires. I think they'll ride out Sherman's success as long as they can there, too, knowing they have E-man and Witherspoon.

Until then, we have to work to replace the depth pieces with developmental guys who have starter-level traits and hope they are ready by the time they're needed to replace high-cost former starters we couldn't retain.

It's going to be the same situation as what happened to Harbaugh. Armstead will be gone next year among others, maybe Breida or Mostert too. One piece at a time will be taken every year, just have to do a better job of replacing them. I give Seattle credit for that, they lost a lot of guys.
Originally posted by Curlin:
It's going to be the same situation as what happened to Harbaugh. Armstead will be gone next year among others, maybe Breida or Mostert too. One piece at a time will be taken every year, just have to do a better job of replacing them. I give Seattle credit for that, they lost a lot of guys.

Mostert is signed for 2 more years and Breida is an RFA. Neither is going anywhere.
[ Edited by 9ers4eva on Dec 20, 2019 at 9:45 PM ]
Originally posted by 9ers4eva:
Originally posted by Curlin:
It's going to be the same situation as what happened to Harbaugh. Armstead will be gone next year among others, maybe Breida or Mostert too. One piece at a time will be taken every year, just have to do a better job of replacing them. I give Seattle credit for that, they lost a lot of guys.

Mostert is signed for 2 more years and Breida is an RFA. Neither is going anywhere.

Also, AA doesn't want to leave and I think worst case scenario he gets franchised. We'll keep the majority of our players next year but the tougher decisions will come in 2021.
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
Originally posted by 9ers4eva:
Originally posted by Curlin:
It's going to be the same situation as what happened to Harbaugh. Armstead will be gone next year among others, maybe Breida or Mostert too. One piece at a time will be taken every year, just have to do a better job of replacing them. I give Seattle credit for that, they lost a lot of guys.

Mostert is signed for 2 more years and Breida is an RFA. Neither is going anywhere.

Also, AA doesn't want to leave and I think worst case scenario he gets franchised. We'll keep the majority of our players next year but the tougher decisions will come in 2021.

Hopefully. This would mean that next year's draft, somewhat gutted by the trades, can be used sensibly and we should have at least a full draft when we need it, in 2021. Good thread otc.
Seahawks ravens and falcons

Notice we've only lost to a couple birds of prey and one big a$$ black bird⁉️⁉️⁉️ Guess we gotta pull the shotgun out
Great stuff OTC.

20 Things 2019 Taught Us?
1. Injuries still dominate us (6th straight year of insanely high AGL compared to the rest of the NFL). My theory is this is a clear combination of scheme-strain (more asked of OL, DL and LB's) and poor tackling technique and all-gas-no-brakes mentality/philosophy. And also certain targeted players by the FO (moneyball).
2. Pass protection still blows (Kyle spent much time scheming around both injuries and poor pass protection this year with extra focus on run schemes and a top 5 TTT from Garoppolo).
3. Outside zone requires at least 10 quality OL. Nobody goes through OL like us.
4. Trenches (OL/DL) continue to get decimated with injuries (3rd straight year).
5. W9 requires at least one 250-260 speed ER. The defense isn't complete without one opposite Bosa. Bosa needs to be paced; needs legit depth behind him.
6. We don't have any playmakers in the secondary.
7. The WILL position still can not get through 16 games (3rd straight year) d/t size, poor tackling technique and position requirements strain.
8. XWR is crucial for Kyle's offense (Pettis vs. Sanders) and the YWR is not.
9. Saleh is who he is (going to need supreme talent at every level esp. pass rush).
10. Woods and Kocurek need to be extended.
11. Hightower is a poor and ultra conservative ST coach.
12. Arby's are deep and lateral speed is very effective. But Breida can not be relied upon as a #1.
13. C.J. BeatHard is costing us an important roster spot.
14. Neither Gould or Wishnowsky can kick a ball out of the EZ on kickoffs even in critical moments.
15. Robbie Gould and Dante Pettis are not invested here.
16. Kyle still is still growing as a team manager regarding in-game scenarios and knowing when to be conservative vs. aggressive.
17. Will Ford, Richburg, Hurd and Taylor every fully recover? Don't count on it. Plan accordingly.
18. AA can't imagine playing anywhere else.
19. We need another FB in-training. The running, passing game and pass protection was hurting without Juice.
20. Witherspoon remains hit-miss both in coverage and in run support.

Anything else?

Given what we learned about this season, I'd list my personnel priority positions this way (not that the draft will fall in perfect order or that we even have enough picks to address them all). Smart FA might be key here:

C/G (2) - Top shelf. Extra emphasis on pass protection
T - Top shelf. Staley's long-term replacement starts training now. Brunskill is quality depth to challenge Coleman
ER - Top shelf. Speed ER (not another big slower BE. Requires an electric get-off and an array of pass rush moves/feel)
TE/FB - Top shelf. Running game 100% fell off the map without both. Another dynamic TE, Kyle could stay within his own philosophy and take a load off pass protection and Jimmy Garoppolo
WR - Top shelf. Need an X in-training with Sanders here
NT - run defense fell off without Jones. Might even consider a wide-bodied plugger d/t wider gaps inside d/t the W9 alignments, short yardage and goal line situations
SAM - this team needs a legit SAM who can be cross trained in MIKE/WILL
FS - if Ward is not resigned
ST - need a specialist for kickoffs and a dynamic returner
[ Edited by NCommand on Dec 21, 2019 at 5:33 AM ]
Free agency will determine a lot for this team going forward (obviously).

If they can't resign Ward S becomes the biggest issue. If they can't resign AA DL gets pushed up. If we can't resign sanders, WR jumps way up as well.

At this pt assuming we resign everyone, IOL needs to be the position to upgrade. That can change depending on who we resign.

Originally posted by NYniner85:
Free agency will determine a lot for this team going forward (obviously).

If they can't resign Ward S becomes the biggest issue. If they can't resign AA DL gets pushed up. If we can't resign sanders, WR jumps way up as well.

At this pt assuming we resign everyone, IOL needs to be the position to upgrade. That can change depending on who we resign.

100%
Originally posted by NCommand:
Originally posted by NYniner85:
Free agency will determine a lot for this team going forward (obviously).

If they can't resign Ward S becomes the biggest issue. If they can't resign AA DL gets pushed up. If we can't resign sanders, WR jumps way up as well.

At this pt assuming we resign everyone, IOL needs to be the position to upgrade. That can change depending on who we resign.

100%

Totally agree that our need priority is in flux depending on who comes back. My current list is based on what I'm expecting from us.
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
Totally agree that our need priority is in flux depending on who comes back. My current list is based on what I'm expecting from us.

Totally.
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
Originally posted by Curlin:
This is the same problem every team has. Every year you lose players and get players. You lose cohesiveness, especially on defense.

ex...
The 2012 super bowl secondary was whitner, goldson, rogers and brown.
in just 2 years 2014 it was bethae, reid, cox and culliver.

Hard to maintain any integrity with that kind of turnover.

Yep, eventually, every team is faced with a tough decision of which high-priced player will they have to say goodbye to. I think right now, the Niners might believe they already have a lost cost replacement at RG for next year (Brunskill) and/or LT in 2 years (Brunskill/Skule) or sooner, depending on when Joe retires. I think they'll ride out Sherman's success as long as they can there, too, knowing they have E-man and Witherspoon.

Until then, we have to work to replace the depth pieces with developmental guys who have starter-level traits and hope they are ready by the time they're needed to replace high-cost former starters we couldn't retain.

This is one of the biggest reasons I will never compare teams of today with the pre cap and free agency era. Those teams were so much deeper and cohesive than todays teams that it's almost a different game. Today you're lucky to have depth at one position let alone the entire roster. It may make for more competition from top to bottom but it also makes it almost impossible to build a true super team. No more dynasties unless you happen to play in a division that is always weak like NE,
This is a good, sensible thread. I don't know how, but for some reason, I think we keep AA and Ward. In terms of Dline, we definitely will bring in another speed rusher. I'm also wondering what our Dline will look like next year, which is the key to our team. Going forward, I see Ford, Buckner, AA, Bosa, Blair, Jones, and Street as locks. With Thomas, I'm a supporter, but you have to wonder is what he brings worth the 8-9 million in cap space? It's an easy answer and the trade/cut would allow us to either extend or bring in a player that can provide more. Thomas will have to be really special in the playoffs to justify his spot going forward.

At LB, our young guys (Greenlaw and Al-Shaair in particular) just need more experience. I would bring in one or two guys however to push those two. At DB, I am thinking just adding safety help and we should be fine.

On offense, it's pretty simple. We need a deep threat, a guard, a player that can play center/guard, and possibly a tackle. It will be interesting to see how they go about adding to the offensive roster.

It's funny because we are averaging nearly 30 points a game, yet we are still leaving a lot on the field and the offense hasn't played anywhere near its potential, unlike the defense. This will be an interesting team to watch in 2020. Much like the 2012 season when we weren't going to catch anyone by surprise and seeing how people will play us. We will be much different on defense when fully healthy. Just need the offense to hit it's stride consistently.
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