Can NY Jets replicate the 2019 49ers secondary?
Finally, the 49ers' secondary. The unit was largely unspectacular, with cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt proving to be nothing special.
Where this secondary was very strong, though, was at free safety in Jimmie Ward and, above all, CB1 in Richard Sherman. Sherman was one of the best cornerbacks in the league in 2019 for the 49ers. While Bryce Hall has emerged as a quality starter for the Jets, it would be disingenuous to argue Hall could be Sherman.
This is likely where another big acquisition would have to be made. Fortunately for the Jets, though, Joe Douglas has an abundance of resources to make this acquisition.
With ultra-talented cornerback J.C. Jackson set to hit free agency this offseason, Douglas has the opportunity to bring in a Sherman-level talent to the cornerback corps. That is, if Jackson actually hits the open market.
Alternatively, Douglas could look to the draft for a new star cornerback with Seattle’s first rounder.
Across from Sherman was Moseley. While Hall would not be able to fill the Sherman role, he could act as the CB2 like Emmanuel Moseley did that season.
Moseley was a solid cornerback starting for the first time in 2019. He performed his job admirably, registering a 70.0 PFF grade and allowing just 6.6 yards per target and 54.2 percent completions.
Hall ranked sixth in man coverage this season per PFF and allowed 7.6 yards per target, a respectable number. Most notably, Hall finished second in forced incompletions this season, even ahead of superstar Jalen Ramsey. Hall can easily fit the Moseley role.
Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt was a talented yet unspectacular safety. While a solid piece for that defense, Tartt was perhaps the least significant link.
His stats were unimpressive and his ’19 PFF grade of 66.4 wouldn’t be difficult to replicate. Here, Gang Green could hold a camp competition with current personnel and perhaps a mid-round rookie to find their Jaquiski Tartt.
Finally, Jimmie Ward. Ward was not a great player heading into the 2019 season. Over his 2017 and 2018 seasons, he played 16 games and recorded just 56 tackles and one pass deflection. His PFF scores for those seasons were 54.2 and 55.2 respectively, two very low scores.
Oddly enough, things just clicked for Ward in 2019: the journeyman saw a career renaissance in his sixth season.
His PFF grade lept from 55.2 to 84.2 and he recorded a then-career-high 65 tackles as well as eight pass deflections in just 13 games. In coverage, he allowed less than 10 yards per completion — another career-high.
Ward’s production came seemingly out of the blue for the 49ers, which the Jets would also need to happen given their lack of safety talent if they want to replicate Ward's presence without making a move.
Otherwise, Joe Douglas could look into free agency for a new starter, as this year’s safety class will be loaded with premium safeties such as Marcus Williams and Jessie Bates.