Three Positions 49ers Should Key in on at NFL Scouting Combine
Jose Luis Sanchez III
With a very limited salary cap space, the San Francisco 49ers will need to bolster their team through the draft. Dipping their hands in free agency will not be a key factor towards improving this team. It all starts this week at the NFL scouting combine. The Niners were just in Super Bowl LIV just three weeks ago, which considering that fact would seem like they do not have many needs.
Well the 49ers have some concerns around a few positions. They just did a magnificent job overcoming their issues last season. Now the 49ers will need to tie up some of their loose ends to ensure that 2020 will be another season filled with success.
Here are three positions the 49ers should key in on at the NFL scouting combine.
Interior Offensive Line
If it wasn't obvious during the regular season, then surely it became so following Super Bowl LIV. The interior offensive line of the 49ers is a weak spot on the team and the most lacking on offense. It was clearly exposed against the Chiefs when Chris Jones had his way against the group. Jones' impact was a major factor that lead the 49ers to losing the game. This area needs to find stability in a division that involves Aaron Donald and Jarran Reed (assuming he stays).
The offense of the 49ers utilizes the middle of the field heavily when it goes into their pass attack. Knowing that is significant because the interior offensive line needs to have a clean pass pro rep. That includes not having the defensive tackle attempting to bat the ball down since the pass will go right over their heads.
Left guard Laken Tomlinson has been an adequate player, but does have some faults from time-to-time. Right guard Mike Person is set to be an unrestricted free agent and will likely not be brought back due to a slew of poor performances. As for the center position, Weston Richburg will be returning from injury, which he was arguably the best offensive lineman on the team. San Francisco will need to deeply scout players at interior offensive line so they can have stability for the near future.
The secondary of the 49ers made major leaps and bounds in 2019. Even though they tremendously benefited from an elite pass rush, they were still a talented group that was sound in coverage. However, there are some concerns that surround the cornerback position. Richard Sherman, who was one of the top cover corners last season, is not getting any younger. The 49ers must start to look at future replacements for when Sherman's skill starts to decline.
Troy Pride Jr. of Notre Dame is one player to inquire about this week. Replacing Sherman isn't the lone concern for the 49ers. Outside of him and Emmanuel Moseley, the 49ers do not have an answer at outside cornerback. Ahkello Witherspoon became a liability towards the end of the season and will no longer be under contract following the 2020 season. He could always have a bounce back year, but it isn't enough to keep the 49ers from keying in on a cornerback. Depth is needed to keep the quality of the position sound and spry.
How many times will it take for the 49ers under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to finally find peace with the wide receiver position? This offseason will mark the fourth consecutive year that they will need to solidify the position. Last season was the first time the Niners had a sufficient group, but that wasn't until they traded for Emmanuel Sanders - who will likely be in a different uniform next month.
Assuming he leaves, the 49ers will be left with only Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne as their key receivers. That's not going to get the job done to sustain a successful offense next season. This years draft is loaded with receiver talent, which makes it too enticing for the 49ers to select another receiver. With Dante Pettis showing nothing in year two and questions surrounding Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor, the 49ers need to take advantage of the concentration of talent in this years receiver pool.
If they do not trade out of their No. 31 spot in the first round, then there is a decent chance that Clemson's Tee Higgins fall to them. Drafting him would be a great addition to the position to give the 49ers their trio of receivers once again.