How do 49ers replace each loss in free agency?

The 49ers lost a slew of key players in free agency, which means finding replacements is next up on their offseason priority list. Some of those replacements will come via San Francisco’s free agency additions. Others will come from the draft, while others will come from in-house candidates.

We ran through each 49ers free agent loss, the options to replace them, and which player we’re predicting to fill a vacancy:

LB Azeez Al-Shaair

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There are a handful of options for the 49ers to replace Al-Shaair. It’s hard to imagine they’ll find a third linebacker who is overqualified like he was. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles was re-signed by San Francisco and the frontrunner to replace Al-Shaair, but Oren Burks could also be in the mix. The 49ers may draft someone as a long-term answer at LB as well, but an in-house candidate to keep a close eye on is second-year UDFA Marcelino McCrary-Balll. He’s undersized, but extremely athletic and could make a splash this offseason.

Predicted replacement: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

DL Hassan Ridgeway

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This is a tough loss for the 49ers. Ridgeway was arguably their best defensive tackle last season. DL rotations aren’t set and can change depending on availability and matchups, but the 49ers have a slew of options. Either Kevin Givens or Javon Kinlaw could be the top DT reserve, and T.Y. McGill was re-signed after doing a nice job on the interior for the latter half of last season.

Predicted replacement: Kevin Givens

OL Daniel Brunskill

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Replacing Brunskill won’t be straightforward for the 49ers. He was a quality backup interior lineman who could play tackle in a pinch. Last year he rotated at right guard with rookie Spencer Burford and competed for the starting center job in training camp. San Francisco has a lot to sort out on their offensive line, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll capably replace Brunskill with one person considering his versatility.

Predicted replacement: Nick Zakelj, Jason Poe

DB Jimmie Ward

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The answer here depends on what position we’re calling Ward. He’s an excellent free safety, but Tashaun Gipson figures to hold onto that role after re-signing with the 49ers. There’s a little bit of a question mark around slot corner though. San Francisco signed Isaiah Oliver from Atlanta. He’s the frontrunner, but had some injury issues the last two years. Deommodore Lenoir is also an option in the slot, and second-year CB Samuel Womack won the job out of camp as a rookie. He figures to be in the mix as well.

Predicted replacement: Isaiah Oliver

DE Samson Ebukam

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Finding replacements for good defensive ends isn’t easy. Ebukam did a little bit of everything on the edge for San Francisco. The ideal replacement for him would be second-year DE Drake Jackson, but Jackson finished last year as a healthy scratch because he wasn’t in good enough shape. It’s not a slam dunk that he’s the answer in 2023. Free agent signee Clelin Ferrell could have a say in the starting job opposite Nick Bosa. Bosa, Ferrell and Jackson are the only DEs on the roster at press time, so there should certainly be additional names here to contend for that spot.

Predicted replacement: Drake Jackson

DL Charles Omenihu

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Omenihu’s versatility makes him tough to replace for San Francisco. Perhaps Jackson moves around a little bit in Year 2. A new addition could also be there, but the easy answer is Ferrell, whose size and athleticism should allow him to make the move to an Omenihu-type of role where he plays all over the line.

Predicted replacement: Clelin Ferrell

CB Emmanuel Moseley

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It was a little bit of a surprise that Moseley got away from San Francisco. The Oliver signing makes things a little easier in the secondary for them, but there are a slew of ways it could play out. Lenoir could take over the starting job opposite Charvarius Ward the way he did last season. Womack may get a shot to play outside after playing in the slot last year. Third-year CB Ambry Thomas is aiming for a bounce-back season as well after being a non-factor for most of 2022. It also stands to reason the 49ers use a relatively high draft pick on a CB who could put himself in the conversation.

Predicted replacement: Deommodore Lenoir

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

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Given the state of the 49ers’ QB situation Garoppolo’s place on the depth chart in regards to his replacement isn’t of great concern. San Francisco added Sam Darnold in free agency, and Brock Purdy would be the presumed QB1 had he not undergone elbow surgery this offseason. Trey Lance will be the QB1 going into camp, and the 49ers may bring in a rookie, but the true “replacement” on the roster is an easy call since Purdy and Lance will both return.

Predicted replacement: Sam Darnold


RT Mike McGlinchey

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The likelihood was low that McGlinchey was returning to the 49ers. Without an early Day 1 or 2 pick to try and land a high-quality replacement, San Francisco may need to go in-house where Colton McKivitz and Jaylon Moore both figure to be in the running for the starting RT job. Leroy Watson is also on the roster after spending time on the practice squad last season, but he’s a long shot for any significant role.

Predicted replacement: Colton McKivitz

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire