After seventeen games and counting this season, it's safe to say the 49ers offensive line is pretty damn good. They're physical, they don't wear down easy, they play great as a unit. When you hear John Madden say they're underrated, there might be something to it. Of course as 49ers fans, we can all be a little biased at times, but this line is the real deal.
Joe Staley and Mike Iupati both made the Pro Bowl this season and the rest of the line were selected as alternates. Not only have they received some recognition via awards, they're a big reason the 49ers are one game away from the Super Bowl.
Quarterback | Running Back | Outside Linebackers
Not only is the unit good, they're relatively young. Staley is 28, Iupati 25, Goodwin 34, Boone 25, and Davis 23. With the exception of Goodwin, the rest of the line could be together for years to come. The success of the unit and the youth of it leads me to believe offensive line will not be a huge "need" in the draft. With all the picks the 49ers have, they're likely to draft some lineman, but I don't feel they have a sense of urgency to draft any lineman.
Not only are four of the five starters under 28, two of the three backup linemen are young, too. Joe Looney is 22 and Daniel Kilgore is 25, while Leonard Davis is 34. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers have faith in these guys going forward, or they want to upgrade the bench in 2014. Jim Harbaugh will find a way for them to compete for their jobs, so a spot on the roster isn't a sure thing for any of the three. I'd expect Leonard Davis to be the one to go, as he'll be a free agent at years end.
Jonathan Goodwin is signed through the 2014 season, and his age will make center a position of interest in the draft. It's hard to say if Daniel Kilgore is good enough to be his replacement, so look for the 49ers to consider a center in the draft.
Here are my top ten offensive lineman:
1. OT Luke Joeckel 6-6 310 lbs- Texas A&M Stock: Rising Projection: Top 5
2. OG Chance Warmack 6-2 322 lbs- Alabama Stock: Rising Projection: Top 15
3. OT Eric Fisher 6-7 305 lbs- Central Michigan Stock: Steady Projection: Top 15
4. OG Jonathan Cooper 6-3 310 lbs- North Carolina Stock: Rising Projection: 1st round
5. OT D.J. Fluker 6-6 335 lbs- Alabama Stock: Rising Projection: 1st-2nd
6. OT Oday Aboushi 6-6 310 lbs- Virginia Stock: Steady Projection: 1st-2nd
7. C Barrett Jones 6-4 305 lbs- Alabama Stock: Rising Projection: 1st-2nd
8. OT Kyle Long 6-7 312 lbs- Oregon Stock: Rising Projection: 2nd
9. OT Lane Johnson 6-6 303 lbs- Oklahoma Stock: Falling Projection: 2nd
10. C Travis Federick 6-4 338 lbs- Wisconsin Stock: Steady Projection: 2nd
Just missing: OT Chris Faulk- LSU; OT Dallas Thomas- Tennessee; OG Larry Warford- Kentucky
It's hard to say when the 49ers will draft an offensive lineman. In the Harbaalke era, lineman from Appalachian State, Wake Forest and Western Oregon have been drafted by the 49ers. Those colleges aren't exactly SEC teams. I think the 49ers will be targeting some lineman that will make some of us say "Who? From Where?" But I have faith in all that are involved in the decision making process.
Center is the biggest need long term for the 49ers, and if they draft one early in the draft, Alabama's Barrett Jones could be an option. Jones manhandled the opposition all year, and that was on full display in the National Championship game. Most of you might know him for pushing AJ McCarron late in the National Championship, not for his play. Jones played the game with a Lisfranc injury in his foot, and will have surgery on it, if he has not already. This will cost him all of the pre-draft events. Once healthy, Jones will be an immediate starter in the NFL, and played in a big time conference, for a big time team. Jones is a fierce competitor who knows what being at the top feels like, he'd fit well on the 49ers line. I could see the Packers snagging Jones before the 49ers are on the board, but if he falls, the 49ers may consider him.
Oday Aboushi, Kyle Long, Lane Johnson, Larry Warford, and Dallas Thomas all will be playing in the Senior Bowl January 26th.
What round do you think the 49ers draft a lineman in? Let's discuss.