The San Francisco 49ers previously saw a disappointing finish in their postseason campaign in 2021 after losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. They were then expected to start the offseason with a flurry of moves in order to build on what they’ve accomplished last season. However, the Niners’ front office has lacked aggressiveness in terms of going after pieces that can help elevate their team moving forward.
Perhaps their biggest signing as of late would be cornerback Charvarius Ward which fills in a huge hole in their secondary defense. However, they already lost a key contributor in defensive tackle D.J. Jones and are likely to lose cornerback K’Waun Williams and safety Jaquisky Tartt too.
Currently, they are already tight on budget as they only have around $7 million remaining in available cap space, per Spotrac. It has been a disappointing offseason for the 49ers although they still have time to get back on track and acquire reinforcements that can help them in their bid to return to the playoffs next season.
Let’s take a look at the biggest need that the 49ers must address after the first week of the 2022 NFL free agency.
Biggest need the 49ers must address
One of the biggest pending free agents that the 49ers had at the start of the season was left guard Laken Tomlinson. He has been a valuable piece of the Niners’ offensive line which allowed them to play as one of the best groups in the league in 2021. Tomlinson has thrived in a zone-heavy system under Kyle Shanahan which allowed him to be productive on the field and have a career season en route to earning his first Pro Bowl honor in 2021.
Aside from his in-game contributions, he has also shown his durability as he played all 17 games last year and has yet to miss significant time on the field since 2017. Together with left tackle Trent Williams and right tackle Tom Compton, the entire group was able to provide sufficient pass protection for QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the most part of last season.
Heading to the offseason, the Niners were aware that Tomlinson’s new contract should be high on their priority list. However, they still failed to retain his services as the lineman opted to sign a three-year, $40 million contract with the rebuilding New York Jets. His relocation now leaves a huge hole in the offensive line which has yet to be filled up to this day.
As of the moment, the 49ers can still go after free agents like Ryan Bates, Ereck Flowers, and Billy Turner, among others. Heading to the draft, the 49ers currently don’t have a first-round pick due to the trade that they made with the Miami Dolphins in order to move up and select Trey Lance last year.
With that, they will only get to pick starting with the 61st overall selection in the second round. Picking that late in the draft would definitely put more pressure on the 49ers to make the right call and address the biggest need on their roster with the highest pick that they have.
Surely enough, it will be a huge challenge for them to find a talent that can produce at the same level as Laken Tomlinson did last year. However, it is crucial for them to find a way to acquire his replacement before the start of the 2022 season in order to provide adequate protection to their new starting QB in Trey Lance.
The 49ers still have time at this stage in the offseason though they would definitely have to assert themselves in order to properly fill such a huge void in the team’s offensive line moving forward.