Kyle Shanahan

After filling needs on first day, here's what to expect from 49ers this offseason

After filling needs on first day, here's what to expect from 49ers this offseason

The first day of free agency is over, and the 49ers have made all of their expected big moves to fill holes at positions of need.

Cornerback Richard Sherman takes over at the position where the 49ers did not have a second starter. Weston Richburg was signed to strengthen the interior of the offensive line. And the 49ers signed versatile and explosive running back Jerick McKinnon, whom coach Kyle Shanahan deemed as a better fit for his system than Cleveland-bound Carlos Hyde.

Now what?

Jimmy Garoppolo
C.J. Beathard
Nick Mullens
Now what? The 49ers are set at this position for the next three seasons. But that should not prevent them from looking at the rookie class every year to determine if there’s a late-round draft pick or priority free agent worth adding to the mix.

Jerick McKinnon
Kyle Juszczyk (FB)
Matt Breida
Raheem Mostert
Malcolm Johnson (FB)
Joe Williams
Jeremy McNichols
Now what? Hyde is out, and McKinnon is in. The 49ers identified McKinnon as the player they want in their system, and then they went out and got him. McKinnon is the 49ers’ version of Devonta Freeman, who accounted for 1,500 yards from scrimmage (1,079 rushing; 462 receiving) in Shanahan’s offense in 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons. Breida showed a lot of promise during his rookie season and, right now, figures to get mixed into the action regularly. Mostert has a role on special teams. Williams is immensely talented, but unless he shows he’s ready to put in the work to be a pro, he is on the outside looking in. The 49ers should invest a mid-round draft pick on one of the many talented running backs in the draft, too.

Pierre Garçon
Marquise Goodwin
Trent Taylor
Kendrick Bourne
Aldrick Robinson
Victor Bolden
Max McCaffrey
Aaron Burbridge
DeAndre Carter
Now what? The 49ers feel good with this collection of receivers and were never even tempted to enter the bidding for the top free agents, such as Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins. As much as they might have liked Robinson, who is coming off a season lost to an ACL tear, they did not believe he was worth the money he received. Perhaps, the 49ers sign a veteran role player, but there is no urgency to get that done. If the 49ers add a player who sticks, it would likely come during the draft. That way, the team could fully develop a young player -- probably a big-bodied guy -- without feeling the need to rush him onto the field to be a first-year contributor.

George Kittle
Garrett Celek
Cole Hikutini
Cole Wick
Now what? The tandem of Kittle and Celek played well last season, especially toward the end of the season. Both Shanahan and Lynch mentioned recently the need for Kittle to remain healthy. The 49ers could use some help here, especially when it comes to a big tight end who can be deployed in situations where they need another blocker.

Joe Staley
Trent Brown
Weston Richburg
Laken Tomlinson
Daniel Kilgore
Garry Gilliam
Erik Magnuson
Joshua Garnett
Zane Beadles
Darrell Williams
Pace Murphy
Andrew Lauderdale
Now what? The 49ers have not tipped their hand, yet, about where they envision Richburg playing. He is currently listed as a center/guard. He has not played guard since his rookie season, so it would figure that center would be the spot for him. The 49ers reached a contract extension with Kilgore in the offseason. He started every game last season at center. (UPDATE: The 49ers tipped their hand, all right. Richburg is the center, and Kilgore was traded to the Miami Dolphins.) The 49ers are likely back in the free-agent market at guard. Staley and Brown are at the tackle spots. Tomlinson enters the offseason as the favorite at left guard. Brandon Fusco, the 16-game starter at right guard, signed with Atlanta on Wednesday. The 49ers are not counting on Garnett, but he will be given a chance to compete. The 49ers should use a draft pick to strengthen the guard position, too.

DeForest Buckner
Solomon Thomas
Earl Mitchell
Arik Armstead
Cassius Marsh
Ronald Blair
D.J. Jones
Sheldon Day
Now what? The 49ers have the makings of a strong unit, but they could certainly use more players in the competition – maybe a veteran or two, as well as multiple first-year players. Tank Carradine remains available on the open market. Carradine believes he can produce a lot of sacks, if given the opportunity. He is on the free-agent market to look for a team that sees things the way he does. Armstead enters the final year of his contract. The 49ers must make a decision by May 3 whether to pick up the non-guaranteed fifth-year option. It is still not obvious where and how he fits into this defense.

Reuben Foster
Malcolm Smith
Eli Harold
Brock Coyle
Pita Taumoepenu
Dekoda Watson
Mark Nzeocha
Elijah Lee
Jimmie Gilbert
Donavin Newsom
Boseko Lokombo
Now what? The next big development with the linebacking corps will rest with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, which is still mulling its decision whether to pursue criminal charges against Foster. He was arrested last month for alleged domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon. The 49ers re-signed Coyle, who started 10 games last season and is also a core special-teams player. Smith will be healthy after missing last season with a torn pectoral. His loss was a devastating blow for the team after the 49ers made him their big free-agent pickup on defense. The 49ers will give Harold and Taumoepenu auditions to see if they can be third-down pass-rushers, too. The 49ers can be expected to add to this position group in the draft. At No. 9 overall, the 49ers could strongly consider Roquan Smith (Georgia) or Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech). There are few options to help at edge rusher, but Harold Landry (Boston College) is an intriguing possibility in the first round.

Richard Sherman
Ahkello Witherspoon
K’Waun Williams
Greg Mabin
Channing Stribling
Trovon Reed
Now what? If the 49ers add a veteran cornerback at this point, he would likely be a back-end-of-the-roster type. After all, Sherman and Witherspoon are set as the starters. The 49ers will unquestionably draft a cornerback. But where? It could come as early as No. 9 with either Denzel Ward (Ohio State) or Josh Jackson (Iowa) as the main options. One legitimate possibility is for the 49ers to use a mid-round selection on a tall cornerback, such as Quenton Meeks (Stanford), and have him learn from Sherman, the prototype cornerback for this defense.

Jimmie Ward
Jaquiski Tartt
Adrian Colbert
Dexter McCoil
Tyvis Powell
Don Jones
Chancellor James
Now what? There is a lot to like from the group of safeties that includes starter-caliber players Ward, Tartt and Colbert. However, they all got injured last season and must prove they can remain healthy. The 49ers have not pursued bringing back Eric Reid as a free agent because they do not consider him a starter among this group. It is possible if Reid remains available deep into the offseason that he could be brought back on a one-year, prove-it contract.

Robbie Gould (K)
Bradley Pinion (P)
Kyle Nelson (LS)
Jeff Locke (P)
Now what? The 49ers are set with their three specialists. The team also added left-footed punter Locke for the offseason. The 49ers like the idea of having a lefty around the team to get the return men acclimated to the unique look of the ball coming off and spinning in a different direction.

How Richard Sherman fits into 49ers' offseason plans


How Richard Sherman fits into 49ers' offseason plans

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan met newly available veteran cornerback Richard Sherman and his wife for dinner Friday night in Los Gatos.

“Just doing our due diligence,” Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Nothing to report, yet.”

Sherman, who is representing himself in talks with teams, can sign with any team at any time because the Seattle Seahawks released him on Friday. He is expected to undergo a physical on Saturday. Sherman sustained a season-ending right Achilles injury in November, and he recently had a "clean-up" procedure on his left Achilles.

Of course, the possibility of the 49ers adding Sherman to the mix before the start of free agency could impact the team’s strategy at its biggest position of need. The 49ers do not have a second starting cornerback. Sherman would fill that void.

Here are some pressing questions of 49ers fans (via Facebook) as the start of free agency nears:

If the 49ers sign Richard Sherman would they still be in play for Trumaine Johnson from the Rams?‬ (Jonathan Pitts‪)
I doubt the 49ers will be big players for Trumaine Johnson, regardless. It’s hard to believe that is a prudent move. The 49ers have made it clear they will target players who fit their model for sustained success. Johnson will command big money, and he has not been a take-half-the-field-away type of player that his price tag suggests he should be.

I would imagine signing Sherman would not preclude Lynch/Shanahan from signing another corner or two in free agency, right?‬ (‪Benson Collins)
The 49ers were extremely excited about the development of Ahkello Witherspoon as a rookie. But other than Witherspoon, the 49ers do not have a starter-caliber cornerback on their roster.

Two scheduled free agents who I believe are system fits – and, possibly salary fits – are Aaron Colvin (Jacksonville) and Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis). Regardless of what happens with Sherman, I expect the 49ers to at least investigate the possibility of getting a deal done with either of those two players.

Are we done filling in the WR position for 2018? (Max Moorman)
No, but I do not expect the 49ers to break the bank on a high-priced wide receiver, such as Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins. But we shall see.

The 49ers have reason to feel good about their top three: Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor in the slot.

Veteran Aldrick Robinson fits a role, and Kendrick Bourne has a chance to take a big step in his second season. Goodwin had his breakout season to earn a three-year contract extension through the 2021 season. I think the 49ers would like to work another receiver into the rotation so that Goodwin does not have to play as much as he did last season.

The 49ers’ best option might be to use a draft pick within the first three rounds on a player to develop – without the urgency to rush him into the action and become a major contributor as a rookie.

What about Alfred Morris, a cheap stopgap RB who knows Kyle's system and still draft a RB? Morris, Breida, Williams, rookie? (John Mayfield) 
The 49ers really appreciated Carlos Hyde’s approach last season. That said, I think they believe he is not the perfect fit for Shanahan’s scheme. Ideally, they would like a running back who can make more plays on his own.

Morris and Isaiah Crowell would both be very good options as free agents to pair with Matt Breida. It’s all about the cost, though. The door is open to re-sign Hyde. The markets of Hyde, Morris and Crowell will determine what happens in free agency.

The 49ers can be expected to sign a free agent. It could be a buyer’s market for veteran running backs because there are so many great options available in a very deep draft.

Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner fell in love with Joe Williams before last year’s draft. He has the skills the 49ers want from that position. However, Williams did not impress during the offseason program and training camp. He still has a chance, but now the onus is on him to prove himself or he will not make it to the regular-sesson roster.

Any news on Frank Gore's potential landing spots? (Isael Martin Ojeda Serrano)
I spoke at length with Frank Gore last weekend in Indianapolis. He wanted to talk a lot about the 49ers. You better believe he is watching what the 49ers are doing, and he definitely approves of the direction the team is heading under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

I got the sense that Gore felt he would end up with a team. He told me his is not going to sign with just any team for 2018. He does not want to "pad his stats." He wants to play somewhere that makes sense for both parties.

But I do not believe the 49ers will be that team. He is not a great fit for what Shanahan wants from his offense at this stage.

But when I brought up the subject of Gore returning to the 49ers on a ceremonial contract after he has played his final NFL game, Gore could not have been any more enthusiastic. That will almost certainly happen.

49ers head coach Shanahan meets with ex-Seahawks CB Sherman


49ers head coach Shanahan meets with ex-Seahawks CB Sherman

The Seattle Seahawks released four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman on Friday morning.

It did not take long for the 49ers to get involved.

Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area that he dined with Sherman on Friday night in Los Gatos.

"Just doing our due diligence,” Shanahan said.

Sherman told ESPN he had already received preliminary interest from the 49ers, Raiders, Tennessee, Detroit, Houston, Tampa Bay and Green Bay. The Athletic was first to report Sherman had dinner with Shanahan.

Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, has been a nemesis of the 49ers since breaking into the NFL in 2011. He attended Stanford, where he played for former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

Sherman's aggressive play, talkative nature and rivalries with Harbaugh, Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick helped fuel an already-tense competition in the NFC West.

He broke up Kaepernick's last-minute pass to Crabtree in the end zone, resulting in Malcolm Smith's interception, to defeat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game in January 2014. The Seahawks went on to their first Super Bowl title.

He has 32 interceptions in his 105-game career and has been named three times as a first-team All-Pro selection. After playing in all 16 games during his first six NFL seasons, Sherman was limited to nine game last season.

Sherman is coming off surgeries on both Achilles tendons. ESPN reports 49ers officials will again meet with Sherman on Saturday. He is likely to undergo a physical. If everything goes well, the sides could pursue a contract, according to the report.

He sustained a season-ending ruptured right Achilles in November and underwent surgery. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine Sherman also underwent “clean up” surgery on his left Achilles.

“Very positive,” Carroll said a week before the Seahawks informed Sherman of his release. “He’s had a seemingly great process up until now. It’s a bit of a setback for a couple of weeks now because he is in the boot on the other foot, but he is not slowing down. He is working like crazy. He is having a fantastic offseason. His mentality is good. He’s competing like crazy right now.”

Sherman (6-3, 195) is viewed as the prototypical cornerback for the 49ers’ scheme, which is based on Seattle defense. Robert Saleh, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, was the Seahawks’ quality control coach during Sherman’s first three NFL seasons.

Cornerback is the 49ers' biggest need with the start of free agency scheduled for next week. The open negotiating period begins Monday afternoon, and teams can begin signing free agents from other teams on Wednesday. Sherman is free to sign with any team at any time because Seattle released him.

Ahkello Witherspoon, who had a solid rookie season, is the only starting cornerback on the 49ers' roster. Dontae Johnson, who started all 16 games is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. The 49ers are not expected to place a high priority on re-signing Johnson.

Sherman earned $11.4 million in salary in 2017 and was scheduled to make $11 million. The Seahawks released him with the designation "failed physical." Sherman thanked the Seahawks organization and its fans via Twitter after his release on Friday.

"As this chapter comes to a close, I am looking forward to what the future holds," Sherman wrote.