SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Ranking the 49ers’ free-agent acquisitions thus far
Mar 22, 2023, 2:38 PM | Updated: 2:53 pm
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers have made a plethora of moves in the first week or so of free agency, with the biggest being defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.
Signing him to a four-year deal, the 49ers have signaled that they are not playing around next season, hoping to make another deep run in the postseason. San Francisco didn’t stop there, signing a number of players who could be starters once the 2023 season begins.
And while there’s still plenty of time to add more pieces, let’s grade the ones that the Red & Gold have made thus far.
49ers defensive tackle depth chart…
A group that struggled to pressure the QB last season is looking a whole lot more robust now
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) March 16, 2023
DT Javon Hargrave
Contract: 4-years, $84 million
The 49ers’ biggest splash of free agency came on Day 1, inking an $84 million with the former Philadelphia Eagle. While the money is pricey, the 30-year-old’s play backs it up, recording 60 combined tackles, 11 sacks and 16 QB hits last season. Now joining a frontline of Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead, “Gravedigger” should wreak havoc for opposing teams.
The only reason the signing doesn’t get an “A+” is the money, as Hargrave will take up over 10% of the salary cap in 2025.
DE Clelin Ferrell
Contract: 1-year, $2.5 million
Ah, another reclamation project for defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.
Clelin Ferrell may shape up to be the 49ers’ biggest challenge this season, after wildly underperforming with the Raiders the last four years. To put it into perspective, Ferrell has 10 total sacks in his NFL career. Ten! Not great.
But just like edge rushers before him (Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam), Ferrell will hope that a bridge year in the Bay can help him recapture the potential that made him a top-five pick in 2019.
QB Sam Darnold
Contract: 1-year, $4.5 million
One of the most surprising signings by the 49ers was quarterback Sam Darnold.
At surface level, you may think “why would the 49ers go for a bridge QB when they have Trey Lance and Brock Purdy?” Well, let’s look at the history.
The 49ers haven’t had one QB start for them in a season since 2019, the year they went to the Super Bowl.
By bringing Darnold into the fold, head coach Kyle Shanahan likely won’t have a repeat of last season when grizzled vet Josh Johnson has to play in the NFC Championship game. Additionally, Lance and Purdy are coming back from injuries. Lance will be ready by OTAs, giving him competition for the starting QB role.
While it’s not an area of absolute need, the acquisition gives Shanahan more insurance at the position.
OL Jon Feliciano
Contract: 1-year, TBD
The 49ers were doomed to struggle with offensive line depth in 2023, especially after losing Daniel Brunskill to the Tennessee Titans.
Enter Jon Feliciano.
The 31-year-old offensive lineman slides into Brunskill’s role with ease, able to play all five positions in the trenches. Playing at center and guard primarily, Feliciano played a career-high 971 snaps for there New York Giants in 2022, producing a 97.6 pass-blocking efficiency rating, per Pro Football Focus.
Now in the Bay on a one-year deal, the signing allows run-game coordinator, Chris Forester, more flexibility in his schemes, able to have his guards pull to the outside in a pinch. Versatility is key for SF and this signing proves just that.
CB Isaiah Oliver
Contract: 2-years, $6.65 million
This could be the most underrated signing for the 49ers this off-season.
Losing defensive backs Emmanuel Moseley and Jimmie Ward left the 49ers without consistent tackling presences amongst the starters. Oliver fits that role to a tee.
Spending the last five years with the Atlanta Falcons, Isaiah Oliver has played on the outside, and in the slot, in the NFL. Feeling most comfortable on the inside, the Colorado alum will likely compete for the starting nickel-back position in 2023.
His biggest strength is his tackling, finishing sixth in run defense for CBs, according to PFF (81.5). For reference, CB Charvarius Ward was second last season (91.0).
Now in the Bay for two seasons, the 26-year-old should benefit greatly from Steve Wilks as his new coordinator.
DB Myles Hartsfield
Contract: 1-year, $1.01 million
A Steve Wilks signing for sure, Hartsfield provides depth in the secondary for the 49ers.
Spending the first three years of his career with the Carolina Panthers, Hartsfield is similar to Oliver in terms of versatility. Recording 59 combined tackles, two passes defended and one forced fumble in 15 games last season, the Mississippi alum can play across the back seven.
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