Over the coming weeks we will be going into detail on all the San Francisco 49ers free agents, and what it means for the depth chart moving forward. Before we get a little more formally into that, I thought I would open the floor for some general discussion on one position that seems most likely to need a replacement: left guard.
I bring this one up because I just realized Joe Looney is officially eligible for a contract extension. I don't expect him to get one anytime soon, but the 2012 draft class is now eligible for extensions. The 49ers do not have to worry about a fifth year option for the former fourth round pick. He has not exactly blown the doors off in limited action, but he has been an adequate backup at times. He can play any of the three interior line positions, but his best "success" has come at guard and not center.
The 49ers options at left guard include the following Looney, Mike Iupati, the loser of the Daniel Kilgore/Marcus Martin competion, Brandon Thomas, Fouimalo Fonoti, and Andrew Tiller. Iupati is due to hit free agency, and odds seem pretty good the 49ers will not pony up the kind of money Iupati could probably find on the open market. Thomas is coming off a torn ACL ten months ago, so we don't know how exactly he will respond. Fonoti and Tiller will compete in camp, but I imagine both have a better shot at a practice squad spot.
Daniel Kilgore and Marcus Martin will potentially compete for the team's center role. The loser of that competition could have a shot at the left guard position, but we also don't know how Kilgore's leg will be come training camp. If he is healthy enough, it opens some options, but it could very well take time to get back to 100 percent.
Ideally, Brandon Thomas claims the job, and Daniel Kilgore ends up handling the swing interior line work. In reality, we don't know how Thomas's knee will feel in July and August, and we don't know what to make of Kilgore's leg. I decided to go with a poll of who will start the most games at left guard in 2015. And if you think there is a mystery person (free agent or draft pick), feel free to let us know in the comments.