The 49ers have begun chipping away at their offseason to-do list. They have agreed to a five-year contract with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, brought back cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley, added an edge rusher in Samson Ebukam and restructured Dee Ford's contract.
Star left tackle Trent Williams remains the 49ers' top priority, but another top-notch offensive lineman reportedly has hit the open market at a position of need. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Raiders are releasing center Rodney Hudson in a surprising move. The 49ers should take full advantage of their former Bay Area counterparts cutting ties with Hudson and pounce at adding one of the best at their position.
Looking at the 49ers' offensive line, center remains a bit of a mystery. The 49ers recently restructured Weston Richburg's contract to free nearly $7 million in salary-cap space. Richburg hasn't played for the 49ers since Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season, and he reportedly underwent hip surgery this offseason. Rapoport also has reported Richburg could retire before the season.
Enter Hudson, who would be a huge upgrade at the position. Hudson still is only 31 years old, and the three-time Pro Bowl selection continues to be a steady presence in the middle of the offensive line. He had a 73.6 Pro Football Focus grade last season, and PFF couldn't help but react to the news.
According to PFF, Hudson has a 93.6 pass-blocking grade since 2015, which is the best among centers. Hudson has played 3,445 pass-blocking snaps since 2015 and has only allowed three sacks.
Between Jimmy Garoppolo (11), Nick Mullens (19) and C.J. Beathard (9), the 49ers' three QBs were sacked 39 times last season. Much of that has to do with poor center play. The 49ers had the ninth-best offensive line last season per PFF, but they were much better in the run game than the pass game. They ranked 25th in pressure rate allowed, but were the top run-blocking unit in the NFL.
Hudson would instantly be an upgrade and help clean up their issues of keeping the QB on his feet. The veteran center is guaranteed to get plenty of interest as a free agent. Teams likely didn't expect him to be available and could be rushing to get a deal done. The 49ers need to be one of those teams.
Williams of course remains the 49ers' top target. Hudson shouldn't be too far behind.