Let’s take a look at the latest news and notes from the NFL’s two West divisions:
- Right tackle Joe Barksdale hopes his upcoming foray into free agency goes smoother than it did last season, writes Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Barksdale notably remained unsigned until mid-May of last year before finally latching on with the Chargers, with whom he went on to start all 16 games. After settling for a base salary/signing bonus of just over $1MM in 2015, Barskdale should be able to get a pay bump this season, be it with San Diego or another club looking for offensive line help.
- Defensive line is a key area of need for the 49ers this offseason, says Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Defensive tackle Ian Williams is a free agent and could command a hefty contract on the open market, and the remaining options on the roster lack depth, as Arik Armstead, Glenn Dorsey, and Quinton Dial headline an uninspiring unit. But even if San Francisco fails to re-sign Williams, the club could use an early draft pick on a defensive lineman, and this year’s collegiate class is especially strong at that position.
- Speaking of Armstead, the former Oregon Duck and current 49er is confident that new head coach Chip Kelly will help turn things around in the Bay Area. “I think [Kelly] is going to get us on the right path,” Armstead told Bleacher Report’s Uninterrupted (link via CSNBayArea.com). “It’s going to be a lot of hard work this year. But I think it’s going to be beneficial to our team. The sky is the limit for us, really, it can’t really get any worse than last season.”