Suggested 49er moves

The San Francisco 49ers were the worst team in football last season. Don’t let their 5-11 record fool you, they have a lot of holes to fill on both offense and defense and thankfully they are sitting on just about 60 million dollars in cap space and a projected 12 draft picks. With free agency just around the corner, here are some moves that I believe will put the 49er in a position to be more competitive in 2016.

The first move the Niners need to make is to not start either Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert at quarterback.

There has been a lot of buzz about Kaepernick’s style of quarterbacking and new Head Coach Chip Kelly’s style of offense being a match made in heaven. Kelly’s offense works best with an athletic quarterback with a strong arm, which is what Kaepernick is. I too believe that Kaep could be a huge threat in Kelly’s system, if this was 2012. Ever since he hit the ground running mid way through the 2012 season, Kaepernick has done a lot less running, and a lot more hitting the ground. Every time I start to think Kaep would be a great fit in Kelly’s offense, I think back to last season and all the times he threw the ball his receiver’s feet on three yard out routes despite standing in a clean pocket. Numbers don’t lie; Kaep’s 59.0 completion percentage was one the worst in the league. It doesn’t matter what system you put him in or players you put around him, if Kaep can’t get the ball to guys nine feet away from him, then fans will have to gear up for another long season.

Gabbert on the other hand may have competed enough wide receiver screen passes to bolster his completion percentage to something that looks decent. He’s not; he is the poor man’s Alex Smith. Gabbert has a pension for throwing the ball five yards behind the first down marker regardless of the down and distance. His 29.4 fist down per throw percentage rank third worst out of all quarterbacks who started at least eight games, just edging out Kaepernick’s second worst 29.1.

Neither of Kaepernick nor Gabbert is a legitimate option at quarterback going forward and it would be wise of the 49ers to pick one up in the first round of the draft. If Cal’s prolific passer Jared Goff is available, then that’s whom they should go with. If the Cleveland Browns pick Goff at the no. 2 spot, then North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz would also be a good pick.

While the draft is still almost two months away, the free agency frenzy is less than 20 days away and the 49ers should be fairly active with their big pockets and big holes.

The biggest holes the Niners have to fill, besides quarterback, are cornerback, guard and middle linebacker. Instead of overspending on one of the two talented Los Angeles Rams corners expected to hit the open market, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, they should pursue Kansas City Chief’s corner Sean Smith. Standing 6’3” Smith would bring a physical presence on the outside to the Niners defense, something they sorely needed last year as they finished seventh in pass defense.

On the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers should target former saints guard, Jahri Evans. Once considered one of the best offensive line men in the league, and highest paid offensive linemen in league history, the 49ers should be able to sign the veteran for fairly cheap. Assuming they resign guard Alex Boone, the addition of Evans would give the Niners an above average offensive line.

The last major free agent addition the 49ers should make is former Rams middle linebacker, James Laurinaitis. The Niners never recovered from the two surprise retirements from middle linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, and while NaVorro Bowman came back strong from his year off due to injury, the team still needs help on the inside. Recently released Philadelphia linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Chiefs free agent linebacker Derrick Johnson both makes sense here as both still have a little left in the tank and both would provide veteran leadership. Despite that, I still believe Laurinaitis is the move, he’s still in the prime of his career at 29 years old and would make a perfect Robin to Bowman’s Batman. Laurinaitis might not be as cheap, but the Niners could keep him around for a while as Johnson and Ryans are more of stopgap players.

The 2016 season is still months away but these moves could help shape the 49ers from the pile of hot garbage that they currently are, to a somewhat competitive team.