Role prediction for the 49ers free agent signings

The 49ers had a busy few days getting ready to start the 2023 free agency period. Despite limited clearance under the cap, San Francisco made a splash with former Eagles DT Javon Hargrave and then made a handful of other moves to fill some key spots on their roster. They’ve also re-signed some of their own players – some of whom will take on new roles in 2023.

We’ve gone through each of the signings and signings to predict how the 49ers’ free agency moves could impact the team this season:

DL Javon Hargrave

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Thats is quite easy. Hargrave wants to start alongside Arik Armstead inside the 49ers’ defensive line and play heavy snaps. He’s good against the run and a dominant pass rusher from the inside. There may not be a more impactful free agent signing anywhere in the NFL this offseason.

QB Sam Darnold

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There’s a world where Darnold carries multiple duties for San Francisco this season, but he’ll start the offseason as a backup quarterback behind Trey Lance while Brock Purdy rehabs from offseason elbow surgery. Lance is the clear front-runner for the starting job while Purdy is out, but it’s not inconceivable that Darnold would push for that spot if Lance doesn’t make a step forward in his development. However, if all goes well for the 49ers and all three of their QBs are healthy, Darnold sits third on the depth chart.

CB Isaiah Oliver

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Oliver struggled through his first three NFL seasons while playing on the outside. A move inside for the 2021 season met with some success before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in game four of the season. Complications with that ACL tear last year kept him out for five games, but the 12 games he played were his best as a pro. He will be the front-runner for the Nickel starting job in San Francisco but there should be some competition there with Samuel Womack, CB sophomore.

DL Clelin Ferrell

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It’s easy to draw a line between Arden Key, Charles Omenihu, and Clelin Ferrell. Key revitalized his San Francisco career by taking on a pass-rushing role, playing both inside and on the edge. Omenihu received a sizeable freehand contract from the Chiefs for playing the same role for the 49ers. Now Ferrell wants to intervene similarly. In Las Vegas, he spent some time on defensive tackle, but he was a traditional edge rusher. That will change some in San Francisco with a more versatile role moving on the defensive line.

OL Colton McKivitz

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McKivitz signed a two-year deal before the legal window opened. The 2020 fifth-round pick is the front runner for the right tackle job, and it may not have much competition. At best, he will start the season at RT as a replacement for Mike McGlinchey. At its worst, it’s a swing tackle with a bit of versatility to play inside.

S Tashaun Gipson

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The first free safety job is Gipsons for the 2023 season. He led the team with five interceptions this year and mostly played well in the back end of San Francisco’s high school. Barring a dramatic change in his game or the rapid rise of an unknown new signing, Gipson will once again be at Talanoa Hufanga’s side.

WR Jauan Jennings

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Jennings was an exclusive free agent, so there was never really a scenario where he would leave the 49ers. He will be back in the same third wide receiver role this year. It will be interesting to see if he can take on a bigger role in the red zone after only racking up a TD last season. He’ll at least be a third-down threat again, which is really all the 49ers need from him. Anything else would be gravy in an already loaded offensive arsenal.

OL Jake Brendel

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It would be a big surprise if anyone other than Brendel started at the center this year. He played well in all 17 games a season ago and got a nice payday on a four-year contract from the 49ers. Brendel is their midfield answer for the foreseeable future.

DL Kevin Givens

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Givens was due for a limited free hand but agreed to a one-year contract with San Francisco. He will be reinstated as a rotation defender, although he could end up as a top reserve behind Hargrave depending on how Javon Kinlaw looks in the off-season and in training camp.

LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

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One of the 49ers’ camp fights will take place at Sam’s linebacker spot — that’s the LB on the field when San Francisco is on its 4-3 base defense. Azeez Al-Shair filled that role before signing with the Titans this offseason. Flannigan-Fowles is the frontrunner to take that job, but veteran Oren Burks will be there, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the 49ers added another LB via the draft to contend for that spot.


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McGill was a pleasant surprise in nine games for the 49ers last season. His job in 2023 is set to be the same as he was at the end of 2022. However, he may see more regular playing time this season. Last year his snap counts ranged from seven to 38. This year is expected to be a bit more regular.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire

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