Are the San Francisco 49ers anointed as one of the NFL’s best free agent spenders during March? Especially during one of the more zaniest and pulsating free agency periods in NFL history?
To recap, the 49ers dropped $42 million to upgrade the cornerback position in Charvarius Ward, signed Hassan Ridgeway to fill one of the interior defensive line spots and welcomed back a familiar pass rushing face in Kerry Hyder.
Not everyone, however, has been left impressed by the 49ers’ March. Notably one insider who gave his honest take on their offseason actions during his Friday, April 1 appearance on KNBR 104.5 FM/680 AM in the Bay Area.
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‘I Think They’re Worse’
Matt Barrows of The Athletic joined the Murph and Mac Show to deliver his honesty about the 49ers’ free agent cycle. And the insider and columnist didn’t mince words.
“I think they’re worse,” Barrows said.
Barrows dove into the one position group that he said he was bothered by looking at.
“That offensive line would bother me: Losing Laken Tomlinson (to the New York Jets), not really upgrading at right guard, which was a problem spot. They keep saying, ‘Yeah, we think (center) Alex Mack is coming back,’ but they haven’t gotten a definitive answer at center and don’t really seem to have a real strong Plan B,” Barrows explained.
Furthermore, Barrows pointed another aspect out involving the 36-year-old veteran Pro Bowl center.
“Alex Mack just got married in Ireland, which is what the 49ers have kind of used as, not an excuse, but the reason why he hasn’t given a full commitment,” Barrows said.
Where Else Does Barrows See Glaring Spots?
Barrows continued to scrutinize the offensive line.
“There are three spots right in front of Trey Lance, and they’re all a question mark,” Barrows continued. “That’s the main reason why they’ve gotten a little bit worse.”
Is there an area where the insider/columnist believes that the ‘Niners have gotten upgrades in?
“I think they’re better at cornerback,” Barrows said. Then he added “I think they did a really nice job along the defensive line, despite losing D.J. Jones (to the Denver Broncos) and Arden Key (to the Jacksonville Jaguars). I think that unit is still really good with the possibility it gets better on the second day of the draft when they use their first pick. I think, defensively, they have to feel really good.”
The last sentence is especially telling: Giving the indication that the 49ers are going to pivot toward selecting a trench defender at the No. 61 spot of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 29 (the 49ers aren’t scheduled to take part in the draft’s opening night on April 28 due to not holding a first round selection). Past mock drafts have mentioned names like the University of Houston’s Logan Hall, Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie and on Friday, March 25, San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas as potential first options for the 49ers for the Friday draft portion.
But for Barrows, one look at the front five on offense and that has given him his worry during this offseason free agency period.
“Offensively, the foundation of that line is the question mark, and you’ve got a neophyte quarterback presumably taking over. That would be my worry if I’m the 49ers this offseason,” Barrows said.