The 49ers, despite making headlines for the wrong reasons and at times, had a relatively slow offseason personnel-wise. They added former Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward in free agency, which was their highest-profile deal. That acquisition was listed by Pro Football Focus as his best offseason move. While that may be the case in early July, there’s one move they didn’t make that might turn out to be for the best.
Among the moves listed by PFF are some teams that haven’t made deals, and San Francisco’s willingness not to trade wide receiver Deebo Samuel to the Jets for the 10th pick in the draft could eventually become their best option for the 2023 offseason. However, as of early July, Samuel remains unsigned to a long-term contract and his trade request is still on the table.
If Samuel returns on a long-term deal and continues the trajectory he established last year as one of the most unique and impactful offensive weapons in the NFL, sticking with him will prove to be an excellent move.
Until there is a conclusion to the Samuel melee, it’s undeniable that Ward is the right choice as the 49ers’ best offseason move. Via Brad Spielberger of PFF:
However, the 49ers were able to make a great addition to his secondary this offseason after an injury-plagued 2021 campaign in the rear end. San Francisco’s outside cornerback unit earned a 53.0 rating in 2021, good for 30th in the NFL. Their best outside cornerback, Jason Verrett, will return sometime during the 2022 season, but he’s unfortunately recovering from another major injury after playing just one game in 2021. Ward, meanwhile, is coming off three straight seasons earning a rating. 64.8 or better and will now play behind a far superior passing unit that should make his life a lot easier.
San Francisco badly needed to invest in their CB room and the addition of Ward gives them a high-quality starter on the outside while also improving their depth at a position that tore them apart last year.
It’s arguable that the 49ers’ additions of linebacker Oren Burks and safety George Odum to help their struggling special teams units addressed more glaring needs, but the special teams coverage pales in comparison to the team’s problems in the corner.
Ward alongside Emmanuel Moseley will give San Francisco a legitimate starting CB duo. Ambry Thomas finished last year strong and, at worst, should provide quality depth this year. As long as the 49ers figure out what they’re doing at the CB nickel spot, they should be much better in the secondary thanks to the signing of Ward.