Earlier this year, national analysts gave varying assessments on how the 49ers handled the offseason. Following the Super Bowl, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan emphasized the importance of keeping the team as intact as financially possible, in which the team managed to do, retaining the majority of their starters from a season ago.
To recap some of San Francisco's notable moves, the 49ers locked up two of their biggest free agents with long-term deals in Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward. They also retained a key rotational piece on their vaunted defensive line by re-signing Ronald Blair III. The 49ers parted ways with DeForest Buckner in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, however in return, received the 13th-overall pick in the draft. San Francisco moved down one spot to select one of the top defensive tackle prospects in South Carolina's Javon Kinlaw.
The 49ers let veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders walk in free agency and countered the loss by adding receiving talent with Arizona State pass catcher Brandon Aiyuk. Veteran left tackle Joe Staley announced his retirement and the 49ers immediately added his replacement on Day 2 of the draft in a trade with the Washington Redskins for Pro Bowler Trent Williams.
Despite losing key starters in Buckner, Sanders and Staley, the 49ers managed to fill the holes on their assumed "complete" roster. While many acknowledge the 49ers as having one of the best rosters in the NFL (ESPN ranked all 32 rosters with the 49ers landing at No. 3 on the list), some have argued that San Francisco's lack of flashy moves, compared to their NFC counterparts, have made for a lackluster offseason.
Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports gave San Francisco a C- grade when evaluating the 49ers offseason moves. NFL host and journalist Rich Eisen begged to differ.
In a discussion with his co-host Chris Brockman, who alluded to several teams having more notable additions than the 49ers (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins), Eisen made his case to why San Francisco's moves, or lack thereof, were the best among the league.
"The reason why the 49ers have had the best offseason of anyone, when you're not in the Super Bowl, when you're not the cream of the crop, you don't make all of those moves." Eisen said on 'The Rich Eisen Show'. "What you do is you tweak, and you get smart and you use your opportunity that is available to you, cap and draft-wise... It's called managing your team and your roster and your cap."
Eisen continued by breaking down each of the 49ers offseason departures and their countermoves, opting to find younger, viable options through trades and the draft.
"They have a guy on the offensive line, Joe Staley, who has got Hall of Fame credentials who decides to retire," Eisen continued. "What do they do to fix that? In the middle of the draft, they get Trent Williams. The Rams head coach Sean McVay was just basically flat-out saying, 'Where the hell did that come from?' The whole league needs Trent Williams. Who got him? The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. That's who got him.
"I love Emmanuel Sanders. ...But he's also 32 years old. So what do you do? You let him walk, and then manipulating your draft board with the pick that you get from Indianapolis and the draft pick that you have, you go and you replace the guy you traded away in DeForest Buckner with Javon Kinlaw, who everybody believes might be the best D-tackle in the draft. And then you get Brandon Aiyuk of Arizona State to replace Emmanuel Sanders."
Eisen also alluded to the 49ers managing to retain nearly their entire coaching staff this offseason. San Francisco lost just two of its assistant coaches, former defensive backs coach Joe Woods and pass rush specialist Chris Kiffin, who both departed to the Cleveland Browns for promotions.
Eisen's sole caveat is the status of Deebo Samuel, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot this offseason. Assuming the second year wideout makes a full recovery, Eisen believes the 49ers made impactful and smart decisions coming off of their Super Bowl run to set the franchise up for success for the future.
"They get younger, they get better, they rearrange their cap properly, and on top of it all, they didn't lose anybody from their staff, which normally happens to any team that goes to the Super Bowl. They didn't lose anybody from their staff, and they signed their coach to a multi-year extension.
"I understand Arizona gets DeAndre Hopkins and I know what Buffalo did to get Stefon Diggs and I understand why you would put Miami on that list because of what they did in free agency. But none of those teams were in the Super Bowl, rearranged for the future, got smarter and kept the people they need to keep more than the San Francisco 49ers. How about that for an exclamation point, Mr. Yahoo."