Barnwell awards 49ers fitting 2024 NFL offseason superlative

Barnwell awards 49ers fitting 2024 NFL offseason superlative originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers‘ 2024 offseason has received mixed reviews by NFL experts.

And that includes ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, who handed out offseason superlatives to all 32 teams in his latest column.

Barnwell’s superlative for San Francisco was underwhelming, to say the least.

Team most likely to take an exciting playmaker in the middle rounds who might never see the field.

Barnwell is referring to fourth-round picks Isaac Guerendo and Jacob Cowing, a running back and wide receiver who both are thought of very highly by draft evaluators, but will be buried on the 49ers’ star-studded offensive depth chart.

“Hey, even Kyle Shanahan knows this one is true,” Barnwell wrote. “During their tenure with the 49ers, Shanahan and GM John Lynch have built a fearsome group of playmakers. They drafted Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel with top-40 selections, landed George Kittle with a fifth-round pick and traded a handful of selections to acquire Christian McCaffrey.

“You could also build an entire offense or two out of the players Shanahan and Lynch have gone after at the playmaker spots. They used a second-round pick on Dante Pettis and third-round picks on wide receivers Jalen Hurd and Danny Gray. Pettis was traded before the end of his rookie deal. Hurd never played an NFL snap. Gray had one catch as a rookie, was placed on injured reserve last season and never came off. He’s likely to be buried on the depth chart behind 2024 first-rounder Ricky Pearsall.”

Barnwell goes on to mention the money and draft capital the 49ers have spent on running backs over the years, including free agent Jerick McKinnon, 2017 fourth-rounder Joe Williams, 2021 third-rounder Trey Sermon and 2022 third-rounder Ty Davis-Price.

While Barnwell acknowledges the 49ers have hit on plenty of star players over the years, their misses in the draft are glaring and might have had a ripple effect on the team’s current roster.

“While it might not feel like a big deal if Lynch and Shanahan whiff on a pick or two when you consider how successful the 49ers have been elsewhere, those misses add up to something more meaningful,” Barnwell adds. “Even given that they have recouped some compensatory picks over the past few years after losing several executives to jobs elsewhere, they’re still missing years of draft capital as a product of their failed trade-up for Trey Lance in 2021.

“When teams whiff on picks or trade them away to move up, they end up in situations in which they’re relying on veteran journeymen such as Logan Ryan and Oren Burks or disappointing draftees like Spencer Burford in key moments, and mistakes or underwhelming play from those guys in big moments helped cost the 49ers Super Bowl LVIII.”

Even though rookies like Pearsall, Guerendo and Cowing might be buried on the depth chart to begin the 2024 season, that can change at a moment’s notice and the 49ers certainly hope they will be ready if called upon.

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