The open tampering period of NFL free agency begins on Monday. Here is how I rank the 49ers top position of need and why.
Jake Brendel stepped into the 49ers starting lineup in 2022 and didn’t miss a game. Brendel is set to be an unrestricted free agent and may end up outside San Francisco’s price range.
If they lose Brendel, San Francisco will be without a true center on their roster.
Nick Zakelj and Jason Poe are two options currently signed with the team. A sixth-round pick in 2022, Zakelj was a four-year starter at tackle for Fordham. He spent time during his rookie season working at center and guard.
Poe dazzled scouts during last years Senior Bowl and scouting combine with his athleticism. Listed at 6’1”, Poe is shorter than a prototypical NFL offensive lineman. However, he drew rave reviews from Trent Williams after the two worked out together last offseason. Poe more than held his own throughout training camp and preseason while playing guard, earning a spot on the 49ers practice squad.
Another internal option for San Francisco would be to re-sign Daniel Brunskill. Brunskill has made starts at every position along the line of scrimmage since joining the 49ers in 2019.
4.) Right Tackle
Starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey is set to become one of the most sought-after players in free agency, likely placing him out of San Francisco’s price range.
“Could he miss his market? Sure,”49ers general manager John Lynch said from the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. “Then would we be interested? Of course we would. But I don’t see that happening. I see him being a coveted player.”
The 49ers have Colton McKivitz and Jaylon Moore on the roster as potential replacements.
McKivitz has made just five starts in three years with the 49ers. While he would be a step down from McGlinchey, San Francisco has a track record of being able to make due with unheralded linemen.
Daniel Brunskill was mentioned as a possibility at center, and he could be an option at right tackle as well. Brunskill made seven starts at right tackle for the 49ers in 2019.
3.) Defensive End
Finding a pass rusher who can get to the quarterback opposite Nick Bosa is one of the 49ers top priorities this offseason. Bosa recorded a career high 18.5 sacks in 2022. The next closest 49er was Samson Ebukam with five.
Aside from Bosa, the only defensive end returning for San Francisco is Drake Jackson.
The 2022 second round draft pick had three sacks in the first six games. From there it was all downhill for Jackson who was not active for any of San Francisco’s playoff games.
2.) Tight End
George Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the game. From there the cupboard is pretty bare for the 49ers. Charlie Woerner is the only other tight end signed for 2023. A sixth-round selection in 2020, Woerner had two targets in 201 offensive snaps this past season, he dropped both of them.
With Ross Dwelley and Tyler Kroft set to be free agents San Francisco needs to add a few tight ends to the roster.
Safety is the only position where the 49ers don’t have a young player waiting to step into the starting lineup.
Jimmie Ward lost his starting spot to Tashaun Gipson last season. Once he recovered from a hamstring injury suffered in training camp Ward spent the year playing in the slot. Both are pending free agents.
San Francisco does have George Odum returning. However, the veteran safety has made just ten career starts. Odum earned second team All-Pro honors in his first season with the 49ers for his play on special teams.
Robbie Gould told Adam Schefter over the weekend that he will test free agency and be kicking for a new team in 2023. Gould has never missed a kick in the postseason.
The last time the 49ers won a Super Bowl they had a rookie kicker.