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The 2023 San Francisco 49ers came just about as close as any team possibly could to winning the Super Bowl without lifting up the Vince Lombardi Trophy when Super Bowl LVIII came to a close, losing 25-22 in overtime to the now back-to-back champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The NFC champions were the dominant force in their conference in the regular season, but they needed to rally in the divisional round against the Green Bay Packers and in the NFC Championship against the Detroit Lions. Their Super Bowl matchup against the Chiefs went very similarly to their first encounter in the 2019 season: San Francisco took a double-digit, and by the end of the night, the Chiefs were the victors

Now, all 32 teams turn their attention toward free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft as we are officially in the offseason. San Francisco is set at the top of its offensive skill-position groups for at least one more year as wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is set to play out next season on his $14.1 million, fully guaranteed fifth-year option. Running back Christian McCaffrey, the 2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, remains the focal point of the offense as he is set to turn 28 in June. 

NFL leaders/co-leaders this season on 49ers


Brock Purdy

Pass yards/attempt (9.6) and passer rating (113.0)

Christian McCaffrey

Rush yards (1,459) and scrimmage TD (21)

Deebo Samuel 

YAC/rec among WR (8.8)

Brandon Aiyuk

Pct of catches to go for a first down or a TD (81.3%)

George Kittle

Yards/catch among TE (15.7)

However, San Francisco could stand to beef up the rest of its offensive line outside of 2023 First Team All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams as well as add more depth to its linebacker and safety positions. Here is how the 49ers could utilize some of the seven draft picks they currently possess. San Francisco picked up an extra fourth-round choice by flipping 2021 third overall pick quarterback Trey Lance to the Dallas Cowboys, and their fifth-round pick belongs to the Carolina Panthers as the final piece of the compensation package used to acquire McCaffrey via trade last season. 

The 49ers could receive as many as four compensatory picks in the coming months, so they could be equipped with more opportunities in April. 

49ers' team needs: OT, OG, C, CB, TE, S   (via Josh Edwards)  

49ers' key unrestricted free agents: DT Javon Kinlaw, QB Sam Darnold, EDGE Clelin Ferrell, S Tashaun Gipson, EDGE Chase Young, WR Jauan Jennings

49ers 2024 draft picks*

RoundOverall Pick








124 (via trade with Cowboys)







* Compensatory picks not yet known

Here's who the 49ers will select in the first round, according to CBS Sports' latest mock drafts:      

CBS Sports mock drafts

CBS Sports NFL Draft ExpertFirst-Round PickPositionSchool

Ryan Wilson

Troy Fautanu



Chris Trapasso

Leonard Taylor III



Josh Edwards

Graham Barton



Garrett Podell

Jordan Morgan



Improve protection of Brock Purdy in critical situations

The 49ers offensive line wasn't a great pass-blocking unit as a whole in the regular season, and that was exposed in a major way by Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The 49ers allowed a quarterback pressure rate of 40.3% in 2023, the seventh-worst in the NFL. 

That weakness was highlighted on third down consistently in the Super Bowl as Spagnuolo brought the heat with great results for Kansas City. The Chiefs blitzes directly resulted in incompletions on Purdy's final two third-down throws of the night, each resulting in field goals. Had Purdy converted with a completion on their final drive of regulation, perhaps the Chiefs run out of time in regulation, and the 49ers win the Super Bowl. Had Purdy picked up the third down in overtime, San Francisco gets to first and goal and likely gets a touchdown, changing the calculus of the OT period.  

Purdy vs. Chiefs blitz





Pass Yards/Att



Passer Rating



* 1 of 4 vs. DB blitz on third down (2 of 2 on first and second down)

Chiefs First Team All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones came free for six quarterback pressures in the Super Bowl, including being unblocked on Purdy's final pass of the season, an completion on third down from the Kansas City 9. That just can't happen. Someone needs to get their hands on him. 

If the 49ers want an upgrade at center or guard, Duke's Graham Barton (6-5, 314 pounds) could be the play at 31 overall if he is still on the board. He played tackle for the Blue Devils, but he has the flexibility to play guard or center as well. 

Barton is a versatile blocker, in both the run game and pass game, as well as his positional range, playing both inside and outside in college. PFF assigned him 17 big-time blocks, their highest-graded blocks, which were the most of any offensive tackle in the country in 2022. What that statistic indicates is Barton's unrelenting drive to launch into defenders and absolutely bury them. He can become more fundamentally sound in terms of his balance and patience as a run blocker instead of solely being a heat-seeking missile. However, many NFL teams would probably enjoy honing that quality and sharpening him into a high-end offensive guard or center. 

If they are looking for a battle-tested offensive tackle, Arizona's Jordan Morgan is that guy. He was an All-Pac-12 offensive tackle in each of the past two seasons, and he will be at the Senior Bowl. He only allowed just three sacks and 24 pressures in 2022 and 2023 combined. As evidenced by the video footage below, he can hold up against NFL-caliber talent. Laiatu Latu is going to be a top 20 pick in the upcoming draft as long as his medical testing checks out. 

Washington's Troy Fautanu has some of the best footwork at his position in this 2024 draft class, as evidenced by clips of his tape below. He won the 2023 Morris Trophy for being the Pac-12's best offensive lineman as voted on by the conference's players. A third-team All-American who stands at 6-foot-4 and 317 pounds, Fautanu is a plug-and-play at tackle. Some have also suggested he's a viable option at guard as well.      

Draft a talented receiver on Day 2

Recall that list up above highlighting all of the different metrics the 49ers' offensive playmakers led or co-led the league in? Well thanks to the salary cap, San Francisco won't be able to hold on to all of those guys long-term. With Aiyuk entering 2024 on the final year of his deal, there's a good chance he is on a new team by 2025. 

The 49ers can prepare for that future by drafting his potential replacement now. 

One option, should he last until the back end of the second round, is Texas wideout Adonai Mitchell. He is a large target standing at 6-foot-4 while weighing almost 200 pounds (196). Mitchell can burn off the line of scrimmage, and he's adept at switching gears to free himself open when going through his route tree. His best trait is probably his ability to consistently make acrobatic catches. Exhibit A being his season-saving third-down conversion against TCU.

Exhibit B came in the College Football Playoff semifinals against Washington in which he made a twisting catch on a fade route to the right edge of the end zone. 

Another receiver option, albeit at a different size (5-8 1/8, 192 pounds) , is Virginia's Malik Washington, the biggest riser from the East-West Shrine Bowl. After Northwestern's football program underwent a high-profile coaching change, spurred by scandal this past summer, Washington utilized his extra COVID year of eligibility by transferring to Virginia. That's where he became a superstar, eclipsing his four-year Northwestern career totals for yards and touchdowns in a single season. He totaled a nation-leading 110 catches (breaking the Cavaliers' and ACC's single-season records), 1,426 receiving yards (a Cavaliers' single-season record) and nine receiving touchdowns. 

He too can also make big plays out of contested catches downfield. 

Freshen up safety spot

Veteran safety Tashaun Gipson, who turns 34 in August, is set to test the free agent market, and 2022 First Team All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga is coming off of a torn ACL injury. The 49ers could use an infusion of youth at the position. 

Georgia Bulldogs safety Javon Bullard is one of the many hammers from Georgia's domineering defense, as evidenced by this massive hit below against Florida last season. He provides great versatility being able to line up as a cornerback in the slot or as a safety in different parts of the formation. Bullard put solid ball skills on tape for a player who provides a hard-hitting presence, corralling two interceptions in the biggest moment, the national championship game, in 2022. Bullard is a high-upside player who should only get better with NFL coaching at the next level. He could be a third-round target.

Ditto for USC's Calen Bullock. His ability to track the football and make plays, seven interceptions since 2022, provides any defensive coordinator incredible flexibility from a schematic perspective because there is a faith that the deep middle will be locked down when Bullock is around. His speed jumps out in coverage, closing on pass lanes quickly. However standing at 6-foot-3 while weighing 190 pounds lends itself to issues when coming up to make plays in the run game. 

Bullock needs to become more polished and physical as a run defender. That can be corrected at the NFL level as his body fills out.