Even former NFL general managers can’t help but be impressed by how the San Francisco 49ers aggressively addressed a needed position.
The moment the league’s free agency period began, the Niners and general manager John Lynch immediately made a beeline at improving the league’s best defense — by adding the top defensive tackle in the free agent market Javon Hargrave.
Former NFL GM and Heavy contributor Randy Mueller lauded the move to lure in “Gravedigger” on Thursday, March 16, highlighting it as one of his favorite moves of this free agency cycle.
“I always view it from this standpoint: Is it an impact position? Did they spend money on a big guy? And that’s usually big guys and fast guys. And if you can spend money and spend it reasonably, I think you can look at those deals being positive especially if those are guys under 30 years of age,” Mueller said.
He placed Hargrave and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds signing with the Chicago Bears as his top moves. He additionally addressed Hargrave’s blockbuster deal while also giving him the this title.
“Now you can say that’s not exactly a value at $21 million a year. But, he’s a difference maker,” Mueller said. “These kind of players are first round picks in free agency sort of speak. So I don’t think there’s any question there’ll be good players in a new scheme. They’re young enough to adapt and they’re going to good defenses.”
Hargrave Details Big Reason on Joining the 49ers
Hargrave comes over having produced his best sack season with 11 on a stacked Philadelphia Eagles pass rush. In his two seasons in Philly, he got used to playing in games of high magnitude that either involved playoff implications or the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
But for the NFC champion interior defender, there was an element he witnessed out of the Niners that persuaded him that the Bay Area should be home.
“They’ve been in a lot of big games. For me, I just love playing on primetime games or big games,” Hargrave explained to reporters. “It’s just a great feeling when you’re in the NFL to be able to play in some of the big moments. When you’re going into free agency and you’ve got a great team that wants you, I feel like it’s not really a hard decision to make.”
‘Gravedigger’ Adds Other Reasons That Fuel Excitement in Move to the Bay
Much like the Niners, the Eagles created a defensive lineman heaven for pass rushers with an array of pressure to choose from — from Hasson Reddick, to Brandon Graham, to Fletcher Cox all the way to Hargrave.
The 49ers’ trench structure was enough for Hargrave to cross over and find himself in a similar setup.
“I was fortunate enough to play with a bunch of dogs and seeing the 49ers last year when we played in the NFC Championship Game, we saw how many dogs they had over there,” Hargrave said. “It really was shocking to me that they called me and asked me to come over here because a team like that doesn’t really pay somebody like me to come over here. I was just happy to be a part of all these dogs over here because they’ve got a lot of talent too.”
And even with a Pro Bowl on his resume along with the NFC title, he believes walking into the 49ers has the potential to elevate his game some more…especially being paired with the league’s top defender Nick Bosa.
“I met him today. He’s the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, so it frees everybody else up and it will free me up a lot,” Hargrave said. “I’m ready to be around the guys and learn how they play the game and try to pick their brains a little bit. That can help me be a better player too.”