Sakamoto: Which Direction Should 49ers Address In Free-Agency 1st?

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Today, I was fielding many questions regarding the current state of the San Francisco 49ers as GM Trent Baalke’s tries to rebuild his roster. From which free-agents Baalke will target to which way they should sway with their No. 7 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, many Forever Faithful had questions that needed to be answered. Below are questions with my analysis on what should happen…

When HC Chip Kelly was first hired by the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2013, the Eagles  were big players in the free-agent market. Expect more of the same this time around as Baalke has plenty of cap room to work with. I’m extremely high on DE Muhammad Wilkerson and RT Mitchell Schwartz, but if Baalke is unable to land those players, look for him to target a RB Darren Sproles type player like RB Ronnie Hillman.

In addition, Baalke always loves to find that special-teams ace as he signed LB Blake Costanzo and LB Nick Bellore. If past behavior is any indication of the future, look for the 49ers to take a strong look at Chicago Bears WR Marc Mariani.

SS Jaquiski Tartt is too small to play ILB in the odd-man front in my opinion but I would love to see DB Jimmie Ward back there at free-safety with Tartt at SS. I think that combo would prove to be beneficial in the long-run.

To be honest, I’m not high on the O’Neil hiring but heard he will bring an aggressive style of defense. Hopefully, it pans out, because if he’s bringing the heat, he better have pass-rushers that can get there, or else he will be leaving his secondary out to dry. For his defense to thrive he will need more pass-rushers at both OLB and DE.

I think they will sign a top-tier pass-rusher and cornerback before addressing the line, that’s just my intuition. Some names to keep an eye out for include CB Janoris Jenkins and OLB Bruce Irvin.

I’m not as high on Alabama’s LB Reggie Ragland as others. I don’t feel he is fast enough to cover in space or setting the edge which leaves me to believe he is a one-trick pony at ILB. If he’s on the outside he needs to have fluid hips to sink and change directions, I don’t see that on film or on game days. My draft crush is ILB Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame, injured or not.

Yes, the 49ers have gone the cheaper route and that’s been well documented. How will Kelly’s staff pan out? Time will tell.

I would take him even if he sat out the entire season. No first-round pick is a guarantee and I highly doubt the 49ers will be going to the Super Bowl this season (although I hope I’m wrong). With that being said, pick the best available player and Smith would be my answer.

I really loved the way SS Jaquiski Tartt came on mid-way through the season. He has the physical skill set to be a Pro Bowl player in this league, I’m excited to see how he progresses from year one to year two.

Rathman has made it known that he wants to be a running backs coach in the NFL, nothing more.

Thank you all for the questions. I really appreciate it. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to bookmark this link below and ask me there. Thank you!

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Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.