Each offseason, every NFL team focuses on at least one area in need of an upgrade. So what aspect of the San Francisco 49ers is looking better these days?
Training camps have begun to open up all around the NFL for all 32 teams. So that means another preview series from End Zone Score. Dating back to early March, we have taken time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers and previewed an up-and-coming player for each franchise.
Contrary to popular opinions, no team in the league is perfect. That’s why there’s a constant search for talent when it comes to this game. Each club has done its best to bolster its roster. So in this instance, we have been taking a glance at each franchise and pinpoint the department in which it made the most strides this offseason. As you know, we have already looked at the AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, NFC North, AFC South, NFC South and AFC West. We are finishing with the NFC West and have already checked out the champion Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams. Hence, we conclude this series with the San Francisco 49ers.
In recent seasons, we have seen the complete deterioration of the San Francisco 49ers on both sides of the football. Without question, the bigger decline has been on defense. In 2016, the club finished dead last in the NFL in total yards and rushing yards allowed per game. The Niners also gave up a league-high 480 points.
In April’s draft, new general manager John Lynch did a little wheeling and dealing. When it was all said and done, he added Stanford University defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and University of Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster with the third and 31st overall picks, respectively.
It’s the latter who is indeed intriguing. The former Crimson Tide defender slipped in the first round and the Niners took full advantage. He’s not the only newcomer to this linebacking corps. The 49ers signed one-time Super Bowl MVP (XLVIII) Malcolm Smith as well as fellow free agents Dekoda Watson (Denver Broncos) and Brock Coyle (Seattle Seahawks). But the real coup could be the addition of pass-rushing veteran Elvis Dumervil, cut loose by the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. He’s proven to be effective at defensive end and outside linebacker. That’s good news for new coordinator Robert Saleh.
Combined with veterans Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman (who missed 12 games in ’16), as well as two-year pro Eli Harold, the San Francisco 49ers have a lot of pieces to work with when it comes to the linebacking corps. If Bowman can stay healthy and Foster can make an immediate impact, this could be a very productive group.