NFL: Super Bowl LVIII-San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs
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Which 49ers have a crucial offseason ahead of them in 2024?

The San Francisco 49ers have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, which makes it no surprise that they’re currently the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the big game this season.

They’re approaching the 2024 NFL Draft, where the 49ers will have 10 draft picks, including three fourth-rounders, looking to put the finishing touches on their roster, keeping them competitive both in the present and in the future.

With talent coming in, however, there’s always talent that has to go out. So, which five 49ers are entering a make-or-break offseason in 2024?

Drake Jackson

It starts with the 49ers top pick in the 2022 draft, Drake Jackson, who has struggled to put things together since arriving in San Francisco.

After recording three sacks as a rookie, Jackson had the same output as a second-year player, but a knee injury kept him out for much of the second half of the season.

The 49ers have always prided themselves on their defensive line, and they added two edge rushers, Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos, this offseason.

Initially seen as a steal in the draft due to his unique bend and impressive frame, Jackson enters the offseason with his roster spot in jeopardy as he’ll come with the other backup defensive linemen in hopes of remaining with San Francisco.

But, through two years, this pick has been a big miss for the 49ers.

Ambry Thomas

It feels like Ambry Thomas has been on this list in each of the last few offseasons.

After competing for a roster spot last offseason, Thomas actually grew into a starting role, due to inconsistencies from slot cornerback Isaiah Oliver, but saw his fair share of ups and downs in the position.

Now, one season later, Thomas finds himself in a similar predicament, looking to earn a roster spot with the 49ers amid a number of offseason moves.

San Francisco signed Isaac Yiadom to compete with Thomas on the outside, while bringing in cornerback Chase Lucas, who has primarily been a special-teamer throughout his career.

Additionally, it feels the 49ers are primed to draft a corner this offseason, adding depth to the roster, and leaving even less space for Thomas to earn a spot.

If Thomas takes another step forward, he could very well earn him not only a roster spot, but a starting job. However, if he remains inconsistent, there’s a possibility he will lose both.

Spencer Burford

Spencer Burford was a quick-impact player for the 49ers, starting at right guard as a rookie, although it ultimately ended in a timeshare with veteran Daniel Brunskill.

Many expected a big step forward in 2023 after his rookie season, but Burford struggled this past year, ultimately losing his job to veteran Jon Feliciano, who was re-signed on a one-year deal.

Burford now projects as a backup offensive lineman with some versatility, but this will be a crucial offseason for the guard, as progress could indicate a bigger role for him, both this season and next.

However, the 49ers could look to target the position in the draft, leaving Burford as potentially the odd man out in the top group, slimming his chances of making an impact in 2025, which is the final year of his rookie deal.

Ultimately, it’ll be a crucial offseason for Burford, who will look to get back on track and compete for the starting job with Feliciano.

Cameron Latu

One of the 49ers’ top draft picks from a season ago, San Francisco essentially redshirted Cameron Latu, placing him on Injured Reserve before the season started.

Latu really struggled during the offseason in 2023, leading to San Francisco making the move, despite just drafting him in the third round.

This offseason, the 49ers lost Charlie Woerner, but recently signed an offer sheet for Detroit Lions restricted free agent tight end Brock Wright, who seems primed to take over the Woerner role as the tight end No. 2, should Detroit not match.

Wright’s arrival will already cut into opportunities for Latu, who will have to compete with fellow second-year player Brayden Willis in camp to earn at least the No. 3 spot in the rotation.

If Latu can’t beat out Willis, the 49ers have shown a tendency to cut their losses when needed, and this could be a similar case. But, regardless, it would be a tough offseason for the second-year player, as the team may need to look for a new backup tight end sooner than they anticipated.

Jake Moody

The 49ers made a surprising move when they drafted kicker Jake Moody in the third round last season, marking the first time since 2016 that a kicker was drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.

As a rookie, Moody struggled in the offseason, but ultimately earned the starting job, hitting 84 percent of his field goals and 98.4 percent of his extra points.

On the forefront, those may seem like good numbers, but Moody ranked 20th in field goal percentage last year, while a number of attainable options slotted in higher than him.

Kicker is the one position where a team can’t afford to wait for their development, given how important the players are in swinging a game.

So, Moody has a big offseason ahead of him as he looks to improve on a below-average rookie season, hoping to right the ship and live up to his draft status in Year 2.

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