The 49ers face their most important offseason in recent memory, unable to afford misses in free agency and the upcoming NFL draft.
While the club created some optimism with the hire of innovative offensive mind Chip Kelly, many remain skeptical of the franchise's ability to recover.
"I'm gonna be honest with you," ex-49ers lineman Randy Cross said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "I'm not sure if they can recover from that decision to get rid of [Jim] Harbaugh, which brought on the wave of talent going away.
"Some guys just walking away, others choosing to go somewhere else in free agency."
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Cross, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the 49ers, is of course referring to the free-agent losses of Frank Gore (Colts), Chris Culliver (Washington), and Michael Crabtree (Raiders), as well as the retirements of marquee players such as Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Anthony Davis.
All-Pro pass rusher Aldon Smith, the team's No. 7 overall pick in 2011, was also released after several off-the-field incidents. He signed a one-year deal with the crosstown Oakland Raiders.
"The drain out of the building is something — from a talent standpoint, mentality standpoint, football knowledge standpoint — that's gonna take them, best-case scenario, at least five or six years to replace," Cross added, regarding the projected time it would take to rebuild. "Line of scrimmage, quarterback, head coach, everything about it.
"For right now, [the 49ers] just gotta learn how to get out of their own damn way," Cross told SiriusXM.
General manager Trent Baalke has loads of capital to make acquisitions this offseason, including the third-most salary cap space in the NFL, along with an expected 12 draft picks in 2016.
Mainstays such as left tackle Joe Staley, inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, safety Eric Reid and wide receiver Torrey Smith remain as veterans to build around.