Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the San Francisco 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
For the third straight year, the San Francisco 49ers used a late round draft pick on an offensive lineman. The team selected Iowa State offensive tackle Carter Bykowski, a year after selecting Jason Slowey, and two years after selecting Mike Person. Slowey and Person both played tackle in college, but both were expected to move inside the line at the next level. Bykowski on the other hand, is a guy who is expected to compete for the swing tackle role behind Joe Staley and Anthony Davis.
Bykowski has another advantage over Slowey and Person in that he played major college ball at Iowa State. It doesn't mean he will automatically be better than someone from a smaller school, but there is a bit less of that concern about taking a step up in competition. For comparison's sake, as we discussed yesterday, that is one thing we will keep an eye on with regard to Luke Marquardt, once he gets back from his foot injury.
Back during the lead-up to the draft, Gil Brandt thought Bykowski's size along could be enough to get him selected as early as the fourth round (h/t Dylan DeSimone). Bykowski measured in at the NFL Combine at 6'7 306 pounds, with 33 3/4 length arms. He joins Marquardt and Joe Staley as guys who were originally recruited to college as tight ends, before converting out to offensive tackle. Bykowski was a 245-pound tight end as a freshman, but then put on 60 pounds to move to the offensive line. I can't even imagine the kind of food and protein shakes he had to consume to do that.
I took a look at some scouting reports (Draft Insider, FF Toolbox, ESPN Insider), and it sounds like he has done a good job learning the technique at offensive tackle. It sounds like his foot speed could use some work, so that will be something to pay attention to when he gets into preseason games next month. He is still relatively new to the position and will have to further develop that technique at the speed of the NFL game.
What to expect in 2013
The general consensus right now is that he is a practice squad candidate. Adam Snyder and Kenny Wiggins seem to be the primary candidates to fill the swing tackle role, but Bykowski will get some opportunities in camp. It seems like he will open camp with the third string offensive line, behind Staley and Snyder at left tackle. I want to see how his foot speed and technique start to transition during preseason action. It may be against third and fourth string defensive players, but everybody has to start somewhere. If he did earn a spot on the 53-man roster, I think it would be more likely as a weekly inactive guy, with the 49ers deciding to keep an extra offensive lineman on the roster.
Odds of making the roster
I think his odds of making the 53-man roster are relatively low, but he would seem like a potentially strong practice squad candidate. With the chance to keep Luke Marquardt on the NFI list, it makes sense to keep an extra offensive lineman on the practice squad. Bykowski will need to clear waivers to sign on the practice squad, so that will be one thing to watch as camp moves on. If he puts together some solid performances he could follow Brian De La Puente as an intriguing 49ers prospect who was claimed off waivers by another team.