What do NFL execs think about the 49ers free agency?

The San Francisco 49ers had an eventful offseason, losing several key components of their formula from a season ago, while adding a high-profile
free agent in Javon Hargrave.

Former defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans left to be the head coach of the Houston Texans, taking an array of assistants with him, while the 49ers lost Ran Carthon in their front office, who joined the Tennessee Titans as their general manager.

Reminiscing on every team’s offseason, the Athletic’s Mike Sando compiled perspectives from team executives on each team’s free agency, which included the San Francisco 49ers and their several moves.

“The 49ers waved goodbye to their former starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, and filled most of his salary slot with the highest-priced defensive lineman in free agency, Javon Hargrave. It was on brand for a San Francisco team that remains in its Super Bowl window despite uncertainty at quarterback,” Sando wrote.

Their main signing, Javon Hargrave, added significant talent to the defensive line, which the 49ers have built well over the past few years with Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead.

“What they have continually done is keep a strength a strength,” an exec said of the 49ers’ defensive line, via Sando. “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.’”

Sando pointed out the 49ers’ failure to replace DeForest Buckner after trading him following their 2019 Super Bowl run, which Hargrave now fills.

However, the 49ers did lose rotational pieces Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu, who each earned $8 million per year elsewhere, while signing Clelin Ferrell, who could be the next “reclamation project” for top defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

“Prioritizing Hargrave came after the 49ers failed to sufficiently replace DeForest Buckner. The signing comes as members of the defensive line rotation, notably Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu, found deals worth $8 million per year elsewhere. If newcomer Clelin Ferrell suddenly flourishes in San Francisco, the cycle might continue.”

Executives wondered whether Ebukam and Omenihu were truly good talents, or rather a product of the 49ers’ elite defense, which will be seen in 2023 when each fill their roles on their new teams.

“Ebukam and Omenihu, you are going to find out whether those guys were good at all or just products of that defense,” another 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.”

Omenihu’s 2022 season fairly disproves the notion that he was a product of the system, as he compiled a top-15 pass-rush win rate opposite of Nick Bosa, although the key rotational piece did play alongside Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead on the defense.

Ebukam didn’t take that next step with the 49ers as a pass-rusher, but filled in well as a run defender with the team, and will look to take his talents to Indianapolis, where he may be a better system fit.

Writer/Reporter for 49ers Webzone

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