Baldinger: Hargrave is top signing of 2023 free agent class


Javon Hargrave was vacationing in Cabo San Lucas recently when he learned he’d be signing a four-year, $84 million contract to join the 49ers in free agency.

Longtime NFL analyst Brian Baldinger watches film on all 32 teams every week. He knows the league inside and out. During his appearance with 95.7 The Game’s “The Morning Roast” on Tuesday, Baldy heaped the praise on the Hargrave signing for the 49ers.

“He was my No. 1 free agent in the entire class,” Baldinger told hosts Bonta Hill and Joe Shasky. “Maybe Lamar Jackson, if something happens there, would be No. 1. But outside of that, he’s my No. 1 free agent.”

Baldinger said he thinks the 49ers corrected one of their biggest mistakes in roster construction during the John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era.

“They trade DeForest Buckner three years ago and they take a first-round pick and draft Javon Kinlaw and it hasn’t worked out yet,” Baldinger said. “(Kinlaw)’s been hurt and he hasn’t been largely productive. But Javon Hargrave is a huge upgrade, if that’s the case. Maybe they play together and Arik Armstead goes to end, who knows? They got flexibility. But Javon Hargraves is a difference-maker. He’s been the best defensive lineman in Philadelphia two years in a row. They led the league in sacks with 62 this year, he had 11 of ‘em.”

Adding a force like the 30-year-old Hargrave with Nick Bosa on the edge should be a headache for opposing offenses. Baldinger laid out what makes Hargrave so special.

“His interior push is almost second-to-none in the NFL,” Baldy said. “It’s unbelievable they got Hargrave. He’s just exactly what ever four-man defensive front desires, wishes for, hopes for in their defense. He’s as powerful as an interior pass-rusher as there is in this league. You give him one-on-ones with any guard in this league, he’s gonna walk him right back to the quarterback. And he’s got some pass-rush moves, but his power is second-to-none.”

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