As coach Kyle Shanahan looks at his 49ers roster, he said there is only one position he does not have to give a second look.
“I feel like if you look at our team, the only position you probably couldn’t argue to go get someone at is quarterback, just because of what we’ve done there and the three guys we have,” Shanahan told Bay Area reporters last week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The 49ers feel so comfortable with Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens that the organization will give serious consideration to keeping three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster in 2019.
Beathard and Mullens will compete for the backup job, but neither one is likely at the point where another team could swoop in and make an attractive trade offer. When asked if any team has called about Mullens, 49ers general manager John Lynch said, “No, we haven’t gotten that call, but he played really well. He really did.”
Garoppolo, who sustained a torn ACL in his left knee in Week 3, is on pace to participate in 7-on-7 drills in the offseason program and graduate to 11-on-11 work for the start of training camp in late-July.
The 49ers are a team with a lot of needs, whether it’s starters at some positions or improvement in depth at other spots. And with projected salary-cap space of nearly $70 million, the 49ers can be plenty active in free agency.
Teams are allowed to begin negotiating with free agents from other clubs on Monday, with the official start of the free-agent signing period scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m.
“You can’t go get everybody,” Shanahan said. “But you can make an argument to go get everybody at really every position.”
Shanahan and Lynch were signed to six-year contracts in 2017 – longer contracts than usual for a first-time coach and GM– because the roster they inherited was in such poor shape. Former general manager Trent Baalke’s final five drafts did not net much talent, and coaches Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly were fired after just one season apiece.
The trade to acquire Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in October 2017 appeared to expedite the 49ers' rebuilding process, as the club won five straight to end the season with a 6-10 record. But when Garoppolo was injured, along with several other key players, the 49ers took a step backward in 2018 to a 4-12 mark.
The 49ers have plenty of room for improvement this offseason. And there is no shortage of positions that could use some help.
The 49ers will certainly look to add two starting-caliber edge rushers, an inside linebacker, an outside linebacker, a safety, a wide receiver and a backup tight end. They will attempt to use some combination of free agency and the draft to accomplish a roster upgrade.
“We can go any direction. It’s what’s available,” Shanahan said. “You realize you’re not going to be able to do everything. So where do you want to be a little bit weaker? Where do you want to stronger? And you hope as you build this the right way.
“We’re definitely not fully there yet. We’re still having to play a little bit of catch-up. But it’s a very pivotal time for us with the six picks we have. And the six picks that we have in the draft will definitely tie into what we do in free agency and vice versa.”