ESPN awards 49ers favorable offseason grade for roster continuity


ESPN awards 49ers favorable offseason grade for roster continuity originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers retained most of their NFC Championship-winning roster from last season, and they currently are one of the favorites to return to the Super Bowl next February.

San Francisco didn’t make many offseason splashes, but ESPN’s Seth Walder was content with how the 49ers handled their offseason, giving San Francisco a “B” grade for their moves over the past four months.

Walder was particularly intrigued by San Francisco’s offseason moves at the wide receiver position. He was in favor of the team’s decision not to trade star wideout Brandon Aiyuk amid his ongoing contract negotiations, though he questioned the 49ers’ selection of Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall with the No. 31 pick in the first round.

“Though a fine prospect, that was probably the largest non-QB reach on the first round based on expectations of where players would be drafted,” Walder wrote of the Pearsall pick.

As for the 26-year-old Aiyuk, Walder believes general manager John Lynch should prioritize the younger Arizona State product in the wide receivers room over the 28-year-old Deebo Samuel.

Walder also noted the San Francisco defensive line as a key area of transition during this offseason. The analyst fancied the 49ers trading for former Texans defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who should help replace the holes left by departing linemen Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw up the middle.

Walder called the eight-year veteran Collins “a longtime underrated pass-rushing threat who ranked 12th in pass rush win rate at defensive tackle (13 percent) in 2023 and accumulated 5.0 sacks.”

Collins posted arguably the best season of his career in 2023, posting career highs in quarterback hits (18) and total tackles (41) in Houston. His production will be particularly important for a 49ers defensive line that lacks the same depth of prior years.

In the end, it probably is hard for San Francisco to complain about a ‘B’ grade, given its already high-end roster. But another Super Bowl appearance — if not a Vince Lombardi Trophy this time around — certainly could get the 49ers up to an ‘A’ in retrospect.

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