New faces: DE Dee Ford, LB Kwon Alexander, DE Nick Bosa, RB Tevin Coleman, CB Jason Verrett, WR Deebo Samuel, LB David Mayo, WR Jordan Matthews, WR/TE Jalen Hurd, TE Kaden Smith, P Mitch Wishnowsky
They’re gone: WR Pierre Garcon, DT Earl Mitchell, DE Cassius Marsh, P Bradley Pinion, RB Alfred Morris, LB Dekoda Watson
2019 snapshot: Hyped as a team set to make the leap last year, the 49ers stacked up another strong offseason and could finally be primed for a breakthrough.
No other NFL team improved as much on defense as San Francisco, which suddenly has two potential star edge rushers in Ford (acquired via trade from Kansas City) and Bosa (drafted second overall). Alexander’s price tag was absurd (four years, $54 million), but the structure doesn’t carry long-term risk, and he adds speed for D-coordinator Robert Saleh. This could certainly become a top-10 unit, especially if Verrett stays healthy.
Health has been a bother already this summer. Bosa is “50-50” for the opener with an ankle injury, and Jerick McKinnon continues to battle knee issues in his recovery from last year’s torn ACL. He could be shut down before Week 1.
That could mean Coleman was one of the offseason’s biggest bargains (two years, $8.5 million), giving coach Kyle Shanahan yet another multi-dimensional back to employ as a runner and receiver. Samuel and especially Hurd will probably need time to develop, but both bring unique skillsets to the offense, and Smith could contribute early in a scheme that caters perfectly to tight ends.
Meanwhile, the 49ers lost very few players of consequence, extended LT Joe Staley and will get QB Jimmy Garoppolo back from injury after he missed nearly all of 2018. Taking a punter (Wishnowsky) in the fourth round was a serious reach, but if that’s the biggest quibble of the offseason, it seems things have gone quite well for the Niners.
Get to know… WR Dante Pettis.
It’s not the physical talent that was the question with Pettis, but consistency in his 27-catch, five-TD rookie season. By the end of the year, he could be the No. 1 receiver on the roster based on the commentary from his quarterbacks this summer. Pettis has the skill set to dominate if he remains dialed in.
Worth the investment?
–Last year’s preseason optimism has cooled somewhat, bringing the 49ers’ over/under win total into a friendly range at eight. Even in a tough division, that’s a bargain.
–If the 49ers take the leap many forecast in 2018, Garoppolo (+3300) could be a sneaky MVP longshot. Kyle Shanahan coaxed an MVP campaign out of Matt Ryan just three years ago.
Bottom line: The health of Garoppolo will likely tell the story, but San Francisco did just about everything it could to thrust itself into playoff contention.