The 49ers were nine minutes away from ending the 2019 season as Super Bowl champions.
A defensive letdown and a Jimmy Garoppolo overthrow in Super Bowl LIV later, and the 49ers are entering the offseason licking their wounds after a 31-20 loss to the Kansas Chiefs, hoping the offseason brings them the missing piece(s) to get back to and win the title.
Entering the offseason, the 49ers will have to address the contract situations of tight end George Kittle and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, both of whom the 49ers likely will give big-money extensions to. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead also will be an unrestricted free agent and likely command top dollar after racking up 10 sacks in 2019. The 49ers would like to re-sign him to a long-term deal, which likely would mean making tough choices elsewhere.
Jimmie Ward, who had a stellar season with the Niners after finally finding a home in the secondary at safety, will be an unrestricted free agent. Re-signing Ward would appear to be a priority, but the 49ers will have to make some decisions. If Ward does walk, would they transition to Tarvarius Moore, who started the first three games at free safety, or look to the free-agent pool for a replacement?
So, would Dix be a good replacement for Ward should the 49ers find themselves in a bind?
Ward finished the season as PFF's sixth-highest-rated safety. After a career filled with injuries and no true positional home, Ward was incredible in 2019 for the 49ers. Dix, on the other hand, finished the season rated as the 19th-best safety in the NFL. The Alabama product played last season on a one-year, prove-it deal with the Bears, his third team in two-plus seasons. There were high expectations for Dix coming out of Tuscaloosa, but those might need to be tempered as the 27-year-old enters unrestricted free agency.
Dix showed solid ball skills last season in Chicago, getting a 75.5 coverage grade and allowing just one first down for the Bears. He isn't the strongest in run support and can get bullied by more physical players, but he was one of the lone bright spots for the Bears in an otherwise disappointing season.
Re-signing Ward should be high on the 49ers' priority list, but if the safety walks in free agency, Dix would be a good Plan B.
Could Ha Ha Clinton-Dix be option for 49ers if Jimmie Ward leaves? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area