Over the past few offseasons, the 49ers have been in turmoil, with coaching changes and a roster in need of repair.
Adding volume to the roster was as important as adding quality, with numerous holes and a thin talent foundation.
This offseason also promises to be busy, but now the 49ers can be more selective. As general manager John Lynch goes into his second free-agency period and draft, he and his staff will be able to target specific players on offense and defense that will fit the systems now in place and mesh with the coaches and talent around them.
The primary goal, of course, will be to retain quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Though he could depart in free agency, Lynch says the 49ers won’t allow that to happen.
“The fans have our assurance that we’d like nothing more than to make him a Niner for a long, long time,” Lynch told reporters.
The team must either slap the franchise tag on Garroppolo to keep him in 2018 or sign him to a new deal by March 14. One or the other will happen.
Then, Lynch and Co. will start adding other key pieces. The team has needs at cornerback, in the pass rush, at wide receiver and on the offensive line, plus an estimated $130 million in salary-cap space, notes columnist Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee, so San Francisco certainly could sign some key veteran free agents to fill some of the holes. Then, in the draft, Lynch has four picks in the first three rounds and nine selections overall. If Lynch and his talent evaluators even come close to the draft success they had in Year 1, the 49ers would be positioned for a big bump up in 2018. The 49ers have their own first-, second- and third-round picks, plus the Bears’ third-rounder, acquired last season.
The 49ers also are in a good position, in that many teams will be looking for a quarterback in the first round. With Garoppolo now, the 49ers don’t have that need. So other teams may be willing to compete with one another to deal with the Niners for their No. 1 pick (which will be either No. 9 or No. 10 overall), which could produce valuable returns for Lynch. Or, if the Niners stand pat and teams above them get into a QB drafting frenzy, Lynch will get a better selection of prospects to pick from at other positions.
Wrote Chris Biderman of Niners Wire: “The more quarterbacks (entering the draft) and the more teams needing quarterbacks, the better it will be for San Francisco.”