49ers’ offseason checklist: Top 5 items Kyle Shanahan and company need to tackle


Jimmy Garoppolo will go, and other 49ers surely will follow. Eventually, in seven months, the 49ers’ opening-game roster will be set.

This offseason won’t be quiet. It also won’t be as seismic as last year’s, when a trade up to the No. 3 draft spot brought in Trey Lance as Garoppolo’s heir apparent.

So here comes coach Kyle Shanahan’s sixth year, and the same goes for general manager John Lynch if he doesn’t return to the broadcast booth.

What is on the 49ers’ to-do list? After 27 straight seasons without the Lombardi Trophy, these five areas must be addressed before a potential Sept. 8 kickoff in Los Angeles (if the Rams parlay their NFC Championship win over the 49ers into a Super Bowl LVI title):

1. GIFT-WRAPPING GAROPPOLO

No, this is not the 49ers’ primary factor for 2022 success, but it could be their most urgent business, at least before March free agency. Garoppolo’s trade value certainly climbed by a late-season push into the NFC Championship Game, not to mention his 35-16 overall body of work and classy leadership. Sunday’s ending won’t ruin his value on a market where the quarterback demand is greater than the supply.

Garoppolo, in his heartfelt farewell on Tuesday, indicated that “things will happen pretty quickly.” Shanahan said there is no rush. Retirements by Tom Brady (Tampa Bay) and Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) open two jobs. A Day 2 draft pick could make a deal, be it in 2022 or ’23, presuming his thumb, shoulder, ankle and knee injuries don’t scare suitors, He’s been a gritty, team player trapped in the ultimate, individual spotlight that comes with being the 49ers’ quarterback.

They’ve got a month to hear offers before backroom deals get hatched at the NFL scouting combine March 1-7.

2. HOMEGROWN REWARDS

Deebo Samuel’s next position to line up at: the ATM. The same might go for Nick Bosa.

The 49ers pride themselves on rewarding homegrown talent with extensions, as they’ve done with Fred Warner and George Kittle, but those came just before training camp, when deadlines make deals.

Members of the 2019 draft class are now eligible for their second contracts, and no two are more deserving than Samuel and Bosa. Samuel’s rookie deal expires after 2022, whereas the 49ers can ensure Bosa stays longer by exercising his fifth-year option for 2023, if needed.

The 49ers have budgeted for those top-of-the-market contracts. Garoppolo’s exit will clear $25.6 million in space, as he’ll count just $1.4 million in 2022 dead money, the prorated portion of his signing bonus from his February 2018 contract (five years, $137.5 million).

Sunday, Samuel is slated to play in the Pro Bowl with George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk, Laken Tomlinson and Alex Mack. Bosa and Trent Williams yielded their spots because of health issues; Samuel might want to reconsider to protect his financial interests than risk injury.

3. LANCE’S MECHANICS

An NFL player’s first full offseason (after their rookie year) is where big jumps can happen (see: Kittle, 2018). Lance must prepare for a giant leap into the starting lineup.

His upcoming training includes a stop in Southern California, presumably to work on throwing mechanics like he did last year with John Beck and Tom House at 3DQB. Shanahan wants Lance to “isolate on that, just his throwing motion, working on that all the time, which I’d say 80-percent of the quarterbacks in this league do that.”

Lance played just 178 snaps – about 175 more than Tom Brady did in his 2000 rookie year. Mostly, Lance learned behind the scenes on the scout team and in the meeting rooms. In five games (two starts), he completed just 41-of-71 passes for 603 yards (five touchdowns, two interceptions). Once Lance returns to the 49ers for spring practice on April 18, he’ll get back to work on X’s-and-O’s, scheme review and footwork, Shanahan said.

4. FREE AGENCY PLAN

Unlike last year’s spree of one-year deals amid a salary cap reduction, players are looking to cash in once free agency opens on March 16, two days after talks can begin. The 49ers are not flush in cap space, currently projected at $5 million. That could mushroom to $30 million with Garoppolo’s exit, but a chunk is earmarked Samuel and Bosa.

The top in-house candidates to re-sign: Tomlinson, defensive tackle D.J. Jones, defensive end Arden Key, running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., and, defensive backs K’Waun Williams, Jason Verrett, Dontae Johnson and Jaquiski Tartt.

Do the 49ers splurge for a top-market starter, such as wide receiver Davante Adams (Palo Alto High), cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive end Chandler Jones, guard Brandon Scherff or safety Tyrann Mathieu?

5. DRAFT, STAFF JUGGLING

The 49ers’ first-round pick (No. 29 overall) went with a third-round slot to the Dolphins as part of last year’s move up to get Lance. Still, the 49ers have picks in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds, plus possible seventh-round compensatory picks and whatever they get for Garoppolo.

What positions need to come from that April 28-30 draft in Las Vegas? Cornerback, defensive line, offensive line and running back are spots where the 49ers’ depth proved thin this year.

Will Lynch be around to make those picks alongside Shanahan? If the broadcast booth lures back Lynch, Adam Peters could get promoted from assistant general manager, or perhaps the 49ers go with Ran Carthon, their director of pro personnel, who interviewed for the Bears’ GM post.

This roster goes how Shanahan wants it to go, and there are no signs yet of a coaching staff shakeup. Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel is slated to interview again for the Miami Dolphins’ head-coaching vacancy Thursday. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans rebuffed the Minnesota Vikings’ request for a second interview.