49ers Receive Strong Words on 2023 Offseason From NFL Execs: Insider

Charles Omenihu

Getty Charles Omenihu (middle) in his final game with the 49ers on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia.

The San Francisco 49ers scored big in free agency among their fans with their aggressive spending spree. But did they score points among other executives from across the NFL?

Mike Sando of The Athletic helped poll various league personnel to determine how each team fared during the month of free agency on Tuesday, April 4. There were some strong words directed toward the 49ers — in a good way as Sando wrote.

One topic that was addressed: How the 49ers fortified a strength on their defense, but did it by addressing needs across the line in the form of an interior rusher like Javon Hargrave and an extra lengthy pass rusher like Clelin Ferrell.

“What they have continually done is keep a strength a strength,” an exec said of the 49ers’ defensive line, via the insider. “They are at an advantage because of what Kyle Shanahan can do with their offense and their offensive line. Then they say, ‘We are going to build our defensive line and everything else behind it, we can back-fill because we are just going to play coverage and get pressure with four.'”

What Another Executive Said

While the 49ers bolstered one of their strongest positions, that was also the area where they got hit the hardest in free agency.

Gone are valuable rotational pieces Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu and Jordan Willis — all three securing between $1.15 million to $27 million with their newest teams. But of the trio, it’s the new Indianapolis Colt Ebukam and the newest Kansas City Chief Omenihu who struck deals in the $8 million or higher range annually.

One more executive spoke to Sando about the losses of Ebukam and Omenihu. Though he gave this telling prediction.

“Ebukam and Omenihu, you are going to find out whether those guys were good at all or just products of that defense,” the exec said. “Those are the kinds of guys you improve, recycle and move on from when you are in the 49ers’ current cycle. They know their formula. It is just whether they can get over the hump.”

That “cycle” both were a part of now has Ferrell entering the fold as a defender seeking career rejuvenation after struggling with the Las Vegas Raiders, also Willis’ newest team. And it’ll also have the “Gravedigger.”

Prized Signing Admits he Didn’t Think He’d Join the 49ers

Hargrave, again, was arguably the most surprise move after signing for four years and $84 million. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle from the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles wasn’t considered a thought by many analysts to land in the Bay Area — given the 49ers’ cap situation at that time and Hargrave fielding interest from other multiple suitors including Philly.

Hargrave himself told ESPN 49ers insider Nick Wagoner that he didn’t believe at first he’d end up with the NFC runner-ups.

“I couldn’t believe it myself,” Hargrave said to Wagoner. “I really couldn’t. Sometimes when you are trying to go get the money, you have to go to a team that’s in a rebuild mode. But when you can go to a team that was just in the NFC Championship, that’s kind of an easy choice for me.”

He now has an opportunity deliver the kind of sack production from the inside that hasn’t been seen since the days of DeForest Buckner.

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