Free-Agent-to-be Earl Thomas Might be Perfect for 49ers

Seattle free safety expected to sign with new team this offseason, and his addition to 49ers could be a huge boost to a system with which he's already familiar

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When Kyle Shanahan was hired to coach the 49ers, he brought in Robert Saleh to install a defensive scheme similar to the one used by the Seattle Seahawks.

Now, it might be prudent to add another Seahawks star to make it work.

A year after adding former Seattle All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, the 49ers might be wise this offseason to spend big money to bring aboard three-time All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas, Sherman’s former teammate.

Recently, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com made the case that Thomas, 29, might be the key piece to improving the secondary in 2019. The 49ers (and Seahawks) system puts its strong safety up close to the line to help against the run, with the free safety responsible for deep help.

“Free safety is a critical position in the Niners’ scheme, and adding a veteran who can run the alley, come up with some takeaways and provide leadership would help the defense take the next step,” wrote Wagoner. “The most obvious choice to fill that role is Seattle’s Earl Thomas, as he’s headed toward free agency and unlikely to return to the Seahawks.”

The 49ers believe they have a good young free safety in Adrian Colbert, but Colbert’s season was cut short, and he didn’t play as well, on the whole, as he did as a rookie in 2017 before the injury.

So, bringing in Thomas as an impact player and mentor could be a smart move.

Thomas played just four games in 2018, before missing the rest of the schedule with a broken leg but had three interceptions. In his nine-year pro career, he’s had 28 interceptions and forced 11 fumbles.

Sherman would love to play with Thomas again, though the 49ers will have to pay plenty to get him. There could be many suitors.

“Would I love to play with Earl B. Thomas III? I’d love to,” Sherman told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group recently. “But I’m sure he’ll have a plethora of opportunities and I’m sure we’re going to throw our hat in the ring.”

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