49ers 2022 NFL draft needs after free agency

The 49ers’ offseason hasn’t been flashy, but they’ve checked some boxes with smaller free agency moves they’re hoping will supplement a roster already rife with top-end talent.

So far they’ve cornerback Charvarius Ward, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, linebacker Oren Burks, defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway and safety George Odum, re-signed quarterback Nate Sudfeld. They also tendered OL Daniel Brunskill and paved the way for his return of him. Those moves didn’t make major headlines, but they were significant enough to change some of the team’s needs in this year’s draft.

Let’s look at the other boxes the 49ers need to check heading into the 2022 draft:

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Laken Tomlinson’s exit in free agency leaves San Francisco with holes on their offensive line at both guard spots. Aaron Banks, Daniel Brunskill, Colton McKivitz and Jaylon Moore can all compete for those two jobs, but it’s hard to feel great about that group given their collective track records. Identifying a starting-caliber OL early in the draft is a key that could make or break the 49ers’ offseason.

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The pass rush is important for San Francisco’s success. They have to find a young, cost-controlled player at the position instead of trying to piece together a rush with cheap veterans. There’s an argument to be made for edge rusher being at the top of this list with Arden Key likely walking in free agency and mystery shrouding Dee Ford’s future.

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Tight end depth is never a real with George Kittle atop the depth chart. However, the 49ers could get more dynamic there after a few years of Ross Dwelley and Charlie Woerner holding down the TE2 jobs. Finding a better receiving threat as Kittle’s backup would give head coach Kyle Shanahan a ton of flexibility with multiple tight end sets and create more headaches for opposing defensive coaches. They’ve tried in the past to add another pass-catching threat at TE to pair with Kittle. This year’s class is their chance to do so on the cheap.

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DJ Jones leaving for Denver and Kentavius ​​Street joining the Saints was a hit to the 49ers’ interior DL ​​depth. Ridgeway will help, but he’s never been a major player on any defensive line he’s been on. Kevin Givens is a good rotational piece, but relying fully on 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw to step into a bigger role is a risky bet. The 49ers shouldn’t reach for a defensive tackle, but scooping a couple on Day 3 would make a lot of sense.

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The 49ers running back room is a little thin with Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty manning the fort. Jeff Wilson Jr. is still a free agent so it’s not imperative San Francisco adds another player here in the draft if they re-sign him. On the other hand, Sermon didn’t contribute much as a rookie and Hasty was used exclusively on third downs. If Wilson doesn’t return, the 49ers will need to find another RB in this year’s rookie class.

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Odum gives the 49ers some good depth at safety, but there’s not a surefire starter at strong safety among him, Talanoa Hufanga and Tarvarius Moore. This is the type of position where if a very good safety prospect falls to 61, San Francisco should take him and figure the rest out later. Jimmie Ward isn’t going to be in the Bay Area forever and the 49ers still need a player to start next to him this year. If they can check short and long-term boxes with a safety they should do it.

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Charvarius Ward, Ambry Thomas and Emmanuel Moseley is a nice starting CB group. As the 49ers learned a year ago though, depth is essential at corner and Deommodore Lenoir can’t be their only additional player at that position. Drafting a third CB in two years might seem like a lot, but having good players in the secondary is never going to be a problem.

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