The San Francisco 49ers were up 10 points early on against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, but they could not get the job done in the end.
Brock Purdy, playing in his first Super Bowl, could not muster a touchdown on the 49ers’ overtime drive, as head coach Kyle Shanahan settled for a field goal before Patrick Mahomes took the ball with a chance to win it with a touchdown.
That is exactly what happened, as Mahomes drove down the field and found Mecole Hardman for a short touchdown pass to win, 25-22.
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The 49ers made it further than their 2022 campaign, as they fell in the NFC Championship Game to the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994 did not come to fruition, leaving an offseason full of questions.
As General Manager John Lynch and the rest of the front office look to address them, here is where the 49ers could go from here.
Find Purdy good competition
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Sam Darnold is one of the 21 free agents the 49ers have hitting the open market this offseason, leaving Purdy without a backup with Brandon Allen also on that list.
Purdy has proven to be the team’s franchise quarterback, with Shanahan and the rest of the offense trusting “Mr. Irrevelant” to lead them to victory. He has had quite the two years in the NFL, and at his price tag, the 49ers can continue bringing in top talent elsewhere to surround him with the pieces necessary to continue dominating the league.
However, who the 49ers bring in the quarterbacks room should be a bit more than just the typical backup quarterback. While the 49ers seem set on Purdy as their starter, making sure he has good competition at camp is a win-win, as a solid backup can also pay dividends in a league that saw many starters lost to injury.
Ryan Tannehill, Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew and others are available for the 49ers to look at. That said, they could very well bring Darnold back next season after backing up Purdy throughout the year.
Re-sign Chase Young
The 49ers showed their wish to truly go for it midway through the season when they struck a trade with the Washington Commanders to land Chase Young.
They did so, though, knowing Young’s rookie contract was set to expire at the end of the season. The Commanders received a compensatory third-round pick in exchange for Young, so it was not a major package that would warrant a likely re-signing.
However, the 49ers should find a way to get under the cap (they are just over the cap at $3.7 million, according to Over The Cap) and bring Young back into the fold.
One reason why is due to Randy Gregory’s cap hit coming off the books at $14 million. The other is he played very well.
Young had five sacks, six tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits and 15 tackles over seven games, as well as a sack in the Super Bowl. The 49ers should keep their firepower on the defensive line.
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Invest in secondary
If there was a flaw in this 49ers team during the season, it was the team’s secondary, and that is stretching it.
As a team, the 49ers finished 14th in passing yards allowed per game, which is still above-average. However, compared to a top three rush defense, San Fran could invest in some secondary help, whether it is free agency or the 2024 NFL Draft.
Cornerbacks Deommodore Lenoir and Charvarius Ward are both coming back in 2024, as is safety Ji’Ayir Brown. Tashaun Gipson Sr. is a free agent, so perhaps drafting a safety could be the plan for the 49ers, who will be picking 31st and 63rd overall in the first two rounds.
It is worth nothing, though, that Talanoa Hufanga should be returning at some point after suffering a torn ACL. He is a clear leader on defense and someone that should be in the mix in 2024.
Be aggressive with Dalton Risner
Another weakness was on the offensive line, specifically on the right side, as Colton McKivitz was a disappointment following the departure of Mike McGlinchey, and Jon Feliciano is headed for free agency.
To shore up that guard position, the 49ers should target Dalton Risner in free agency. The second-round pick played well in his first season with the Minnesota Vikings after four years in Denver with the Broncos.
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San Fran could also look at Graham Glasgow, who played on the stout Detroit Lions offensive line this season.