The San Francisco 49ers ended their offseason program on June 14. Here’s a look at how they fared in the offseason:
Offseason goals: The 49ers' top offseason priority was getting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed to a long-term contract extension. That mission was accomplished sooner than expected and gave the Niners some cost certainty at the game's most important position as they entered free agency and the draft. The Niners also filled big needs at cornerback, center and running back and added some competition at guard and edge rusher. Clearly, once Garoppolo was in the fold, the Niners' primary focus was giving him the protection and weapons he needs to succeed. Their two priciest free-agent signings were on offense, and they spent their two highest draft picks on that side of the ball.
How they fared: Above average
Move I liked: Signing cornerback Richard Sherman. Yes, there's risk involved as Sherman comes back from season-ending Achilles surgery, but Sherman's addition is worthwhile simply for the fact that he brings a strong leadership element to a defense that needed it. Beyond that, Sherman is the ideal fit in the 49ers' scheme and is motivated to prove he can bounce back from the injury. Sherman thrives off slights both real and perceived. He has plenty of fuel for his fire and should help stabilize a secondary that was one of the Niners' biggest weaknesses a year ago.
Move I didn’t like: Betting so heavily on players returning from injury to stabilize the defense. Aside from Sherman, the Niners mostly ignored the defense in free agency and in the first two rounds of the draft. Instead, they're hopeful that players such as defensive lineman Arik Armstead, linebacker Malcolm Smith, Sherman, defensive back Jimmie Ward and safety Jaquiski Tartt can rebound from injury, stay healthy and elevate the defense. The 49ers did take a flier on pass-rusher Jerry Attaochu and drafted linebacker Fred Warner and defensive back Tarvarius Moore in the third round, but it remains to be seen what kind of contributions they'll get from that trio.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Do the 49ers have enough outside pass rush to take the next step defensively? The 49ers' defense improved at the end of last season after Garoppolo took over. He helped keep that unit off the field by keeping the offense on it. But other than Sherman, the Niners didn't add anyone to the defense who looks to be a guaranteed starter. That could be a problem, especially for the pass rush, which finished 27th in sacks last year with 30. The line gets plenty of push up the middle from DeForest Buckner but is still in need of a difference-making edge rusher. Signing Attaochu gave the Niners a player with some upside to help there, but it remains to be seen if he can produce what the Niners need from the position. If Garoppolo and the offense are as productive as expected, a strong pass rush will be crucial in helping the Niners close out games in 2018.
Quotable: “We had a lot of work to do when we got here. Just looking at our roster where we’re at over a year time span, we have one guy on our offense who started before we got here in Joe Staley ... It’s been a lot of turnover. You don’t realize it until you get out there and start looking at the board. ... There’s a ton of turnover with everybody, and it’s just nice going through this last year that you go out the first day, and everyone’s practicing the right way right away. You don’t have to sit in here and show a bunch of clips and try to teach guys the standard. It’s their standard now, and they’ve owned up to that, and those guys know how to set the way, and guys just follow.” -- 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan
Salary-cap space: $43,883,807 (per ESPN's roster management system)
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: WR Steven Dunbar, TE Ross Dwelley, QB Jack Heneghan, OL Alan Knott, OL Jamar McGloster, DL Niles Scott, S Terrell Williams, S Corey Griffin, CB Tarvarus McFadden, CB Emmanuel Moseley, OL Najee Toran, OL Coleman Shelton, RB Jeff Wilson
Restricted free agents signed: None
Players acquired via trade: None