Playing The GM Game: Fixing The Bottom 4 Teams


San Francisco 49ers

Positional needs: QB, WR, OL, Defense

QB: Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are not the answers, clearly. Even after saying that, the Niners should not draft a quarterback in the first couple rounds. They have needs at just about every position, both offense and defense, and need to build a team before drafting, or signing, a quarterback. So, Blaine Gabbert will have to do for at least one year, while the front office surrounds the team with talent. Adding a veteran quarterback, and perhaps a late round rookie, could be options, but no way should the Niners look to add a quarterback during the early parts of the draft.

Potential FA targets: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Matt Cassel

Potential draft targets: Cooper Rush, C.J. Beathard, Nathan Peterman

WR: When the 49ers signed Torrey Smith, they believed he could be that number one receiver who can make plays at the short, intermediate and deep levels. So far, he has massively disappointed and there were talks about him being traded at the trade deadline, only a year and a half into his five year deal. It is clear though, they need talent at the wideout position, considering their leading receiver is Jeremy Kerley, who has 544 yards through 14 games. The front office would be wise to start rebuilding the receiving corps, both through free agency and the draft.

Potential FA targets: Pierre Garcon, Terrelle Pryor, Kenny Britt

Potential draft targets: Corey Davis, Dede Westbrook, Amara Darboh

OL: The offensive line needs a complete overhaul, minus left tackle Joe Staley. Although he is not playing at the top tier talent he has always played at, he is nowhere near the problem that the rest of the line is. The Niners are tied for allowing the fifth most sacks in the league, simply not good enough. Lucky for the Niners, this free agency class and draft class not only has top end talent, but plenty of depth as well. This group needs an overhaul, and considering the 49ers will have a ton of cap space this upcoming offseason, expect them to target the offensive line, especially the interior.

Potential FA targets: T.J. Lang, Ronald Leary, Kevin Zeitler, A.Q Shipley

Potential draft targets: Ethan Pocic, Dan Feeney, Dorian Johnson, Tyrone Crowder

Defense: The Niners defense is a mess. There are three players that have played well this year: NaVarro Bowman (on IR), DeForest Buckner and Gerald Hodges. They need a talent infusion in the secondary, save for perhaps Jimmie Ward. Veteran safety Antoine Bethea has underperformed this year, ranking 56th out of a qualified 90 safeties according to Pro Football Focus, and he may be a cap causality this offseason, as the move would save nearly $6 million in cap space. The edge rushers, Eli Harold and Ahmad Brooks, have been massively disappointing, as they have a combined 7 sacks in 14 games this year. Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey has also ranked out horribly, as he is graded 121st out of 122 qualified interior lineman by PFF, and that is a big reason why the 49ers run defense has been gashed, week in and week out. This draft class is loaded with defensive talent, up and down the board, so look for the 49ers to begin with improving a defense that ranks last in the league in total yards allowed, and worst third down percentage.

Potential FA targets: Calais Campbell, Eric Berry, Nick Perry, Stephon Gilmore, Darius Butler

Potential draft targets: Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen, Jabrill Peppers, Teez Tabor