The San Francisco 49ers didn’t go out and make a huge splash this offseason. They were content to let players such as Donte Whitner and Tarell Brown depart in free agency, with the biggest player signed in return being Antoine Bethea.
While some thought they would package some of their 11 draft choices to move to make a huge splash, they instead moved around and actually added draft picks, bringing 12 new players into camp.
Under general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers have been content to make these sort of small, wise moves. They were never going to break the bank for Darrelle Revis or Jairus Byrd, and they were never going to dart up to take Sammy Watkins. They re-sign their own players, draft wisely and continue to replenish their roster.
This strategy has brought the team to three consecutive NFC Championship games, so they must be doing something right.
With the 2014 offseason turning from player acquisition to training camp, it’s a good point to look back at San Francisco’s acquisitions. Some of them will obviously have a larger impact in 2014 than others, so let’s rank the top 10 moves they’ve made, counting free agency, the draft and trades.
This is just a ranking on who will make the biggest difference in 2014. That means moves such as picking up Aldon Smith’s fifth-year option or drafting probable redshirt Brandon Thomas in the third round, while both are good moves, they aren’t going to make this list.
There are three key factors in determining the order of this list:
- The quality of the player. All things being equal, it’s better to have a superstar than an average starter.
- The amount of playing time expected. Maybe you like the Blaine Gabbert addition, and maybe you don’t, but as he’s not expected to see the field at all in 2014, he’s not on this list.
- The cost to add the player. Getting Anquan Boldin last season was a great move, but it was made even better due to it only costing the team a sixth-round pick.
With no further ado, let’s rank the 10 most impactful offseason moves the 49ers made…starting with No. 9.