Playmakers and Road-Graders

If I had to sum up what this team’s biggest roster needs are this off-season I would say it’s simply two types of players- playmakers and road-graders. Here’s my definition of those two terms:

  • Playmaker: In football terms, a playmaker is simply a skill position guy that can make big plays in big moments more than just occasionally. On offense, they can be a threat to score at any moment, and on defense they can make a huge disruptive play like a turnover or sack at any moment.
  • Road-grader: in football, a road-grader is simply lineman on either side of the ball that can control the line of scrimmage. They are big and physical. On offense, they open holes in the running game and pass block effectively. On defense they control and disrupt the running game and can cause the pocket to collapse.

When I rewatched the 49er playoff loss recently, what jumped out to me about our offense was that we only had two playmakers on offense– Tony Pollard and Cedee Lamb, and Pollard was injured by half. Obviously Dak did not play well but when I looked at what the niner D was defending, they didn’t have much to worry about with Pollard gone.

On defense, Micah Parsons is our only consistent playmaker. Road-graders? IMO we don’t have any on the DL, and we have two on the OL: Zack Martin and Tyler Smith. Tyron Smith used to be but he’s never available and Terrance Steele was getting there until his injury.

Going into draft and Free Agency, this team must find a couple of playmakers on offense and at least one big additional road-grader on defense. If we had a defensive lineman who could disrupt the running game and occasionally collapse the pocket from the middle, this defense goes up to the next level. And it was already pretty salty.

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