By: Zach Hernandez (@Zachhernan)
It’s that time of the year, folks! The time where the offseason appears to be moving slower than a snail, which leads to some intriguing thoughts. Such as, which defensive player from the other three NFC West teams would you choose to be on the 49ers? Aside from myself, I asked my fellow 49ersHive writers Chris Sanchez, Stefan Kruger, Dillon Frazier, and Jason Moore. Let’s check out their dream additions on defense and why.
Donald has grown into one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the league. Donald is potentially the best defensive player outside of JJ Watt (or even ahead of Watt, depending on who you ask). While Donald doesn’t have the stats that jump out at you, he does a lot of dirty work that don’t show up on paper. Donald constantly eats up double teams and even still is able to get to the quarterback more often than not. The 49ers have lacked this type of production since “The Cowboy” Justin Smith and Aldon Smith were terrorizing quarterbacks in the Bay, which seems like almost an eternity ago now.
The 49ers have been constantly plagued at the inside linebacker position it seems like since Bowman had his knee shredded in the 2013 NFCCG. Bowman has had two season-ending injuries and the 49ers have been forced to show their hand by starting players like Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore. They appeared to have struck gold in the draft with Chris Borland, but he quickly retired due to fear of CTE. With all that said, you won’t find many linebackers as complete as Bobby Wagner. Bobby can just about do it all – rush the passer, drop in coverage, crush your running back’s soul, etc. He has a career stat line of 378 total tackles, 14.0 sacks, 24 passes defended, and 6 interceptions. Wagner would solve all of the 49ers linebacker woes for the foreseeable future.
Peterson very well might be the most athletic defensive back in the entire league. He is extremely versatile, with not only experience, but success returning punts as well. Arizona took a huge load off of Patrick’s shoulders when they drafted Tyrann Mathieu and it has faired extremely well for them. The 49ers have a huge need for a true CB1 – Peterson is that guy. Last season Peterson allowed only one touchdown and a 47.9% completion rate during a 13-game stretch. Also, he kept opposing WRs without a single catch four separate times last season. It’s also worth noting Patrick held a few of the league’s best in AJ Green and Antonio Brown to two catches for 24 yards, and 2 catches for 26 yards. The 49ers need that type of production more than just about any team in the league.
The Rams decided to let Janoris Jenkins walk in free agency, but opted to keep Johnson under the franchise tag in 2015, then again in 2016. Johnson may not be a household name, but he is certainly a stud on that Rams defense and it’s easy to see why they didn’t want to let him test the market at all. In 2016, Trumaine ranked 26th overall by PFF, which may not sound high but keep in mind there are 64 starting corners in this league – so 26th is pretty good considering. Johnson tends to play a “bend don’t break” type of ball, he won’t give up too many big plays but will give up the short yardage throws. Trumaine has ideal NFL size at 6’2″ 208 lbs, so he is able to match up with bigger WRs without much of a problem. His coverage has been very consistent – something the 49ers have lacked at the corner position for years. If the 49ers are looking for a CB1, look no further.
Earl Thomas III is both one of the most feared and respected players in the league. While Earl suffered a devastating broken leg injury last season and contemplated retirement, he quickly put those rumors to rest and ensured fans he would be back. Seattle’s defense was never the same last season after losing Thomas, proving his worth. Aside from this injury, Earl had never missed a game in his six year career. Thomas is a true field general and with the 49ers switching to a 4-3 defense that mirrors Seattle’s, who better to have aboard for the ride? Thomas would solve a lot of coverage issues for the 49ers instantly, and would allow them to move the other DBs wherever they see fit.
Stay tuned for our next piece, where 49ersHive chooses an offensive player from the division!