The San Francisco 49ers ended the regular season strong winning five games in a row with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback. Thanks to the NFL's rules on rolling over unused cap space, the 49ers have the most cap space in the NFL with $114.1 million, so expect them to build in free agency.
However, to make a leap as one of the best teams in the NFC, they will also need to draft the right pieces in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here are the three biggest positions of need they'll look to fill in the first round:
Dontae Johnson has proven he is not a starting-caliber player in the secondary (he may not even be on SF's roster next season), and given the team's lack of depth at the position, they need to find players they can rely on in the back end of the defense - starting with a lockdown No. 1 cornerback. They may choose to address that need via free agency, but with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, that's the more likely (and cheaper) route to find a game-changer.
2) Offensive line
With the quarterback situation now addressed, you could easily argue that offensive line becomes San Francisco's biggest weakness or area that needs to improve. Keeping Garoppolo upright and comfortable in the pocket is one of the 49ers' biggest keys to success in 2018, and they weren't great at it last year. According to Football Outsiders, San Francisco's offensive line ranked in the bottom half of the league and gave up a sack on nearly seven percent of dropbacks. Joe Staley isn't getting any younger and the rest of the unit posted below average grades, according to ProFootballFocus. Turn this unit into a strength and good things will happen.
3) Wide receiver
Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor have proven to be quality wideouts that should be major factors in San Francisco's offense next season, but let's not kid ourselves - the 49ers are still without a true top option at wide receiver. And, if you want this offense to reach its full potential, you have to give Garoppolo more weapons and a go-to guy. It's more likely that they'll try to find someone in the second or third round than to use a top 10 pick on a wideout, but it is a possibility.
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