In the first half of 2014, the two worst-ranked offensive linemen in the league were Erik Pears and Jordan Devey. Because the San Francisco 49ers pioneered exciting and previously unexplored ways to completely screw things up, they somehow ended up with both of them starting going into the 2015 season.
What a horrible decision that was. To make matters worse, both Devey and Pears were obviously inferior to the guys behind them, and Jim Tomsula was stubborn and stuck to those guys for weeks after that was already proven. It was a rough, rough time and yesterday, I posted a list of free agent guards because the 49ers are still unsettled at the right guard position and potentially also at the left guard position.
Today, we're going to look at the tackles. Joe Staley is getting up there in years, but there is no reason to suspect he can't continue to effectively man the left tackle spot going forward. But at right tackle, there's Pears, second-year mountain Trenton Brown and then ... a whole lot of nothing. I'm not sure if the 49ers will consider using a high pick if a tackle falls, but it's certainly possible. For now, we're going to take a look at the pending free agents at the position.
William Beatty, New York Giants
Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks
Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals:
Donald Penn, Oakland Raiders
Joe Barksdale, San Diego Chargers
Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders
Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland Browns
Kelvin Beachum, Pittsburgh Steelers
Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills
Don Barclay, Green Bay Packers
Byron Bell, Tennessee Titans
Bobby Massie, Arizona Cardinals
Ryan Harris, Denver Broncos
Chris Clark, Houston Texans
Jake Long, Atlanta Falcons
Kelechi Osemele, Baltimore Ravens
Eric Winston, Cincinnati Bengals
Donald Stephenson, Kansas City Chiefs
Sam Young, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bradley Sowell, Arizona Cardinals
Benhamin Ijalana, New York Jets
Jamon Meredith, Green Bay Packers
Chris Hairston, San Diego Chargers
Bryce Harris, Atlanta Falcons
J'Marcus Webb, Oakland Raiders
Charles Brown, Dallas Cowboys
Tyler Polumbus, Denver Broncos
Tony Hills, New Orleans Saints
Byron Stingily, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeff Linkenbach, San Diego Chargers
There are some very interesting names on that list ... but of course, they're not necessarily realistic options. Glenn is the best player on that list by a wide margin, but he's a starting left tackle and I doubt the Bills actually let him get away at the end of the day. Jake Long is something of a relic of the past at this point and he's not nearly as good as he used to be.
Russell Okung is an up-and-down player, but one who might benefit from a change of scenery. The biggest problem with Okung, as far as I'm concerned, is that I think some team will overpay him if and when he hits the open market. Okung could be an interesting right tackle for the 49ers, but somebody is going to pay him like a top tier talent and I sincerely doubt it's going to be the 49ers.
Andre Smith would be at the top of my personal wishlist. He comes with his own issues, but missed over the years is the fact that he's typically been one of the better tackles in the league. He's consistently solid, even if there are other issues to consider. I think he's worth the gamble but then again, if the Bills lock down Glenn or use the franchise tag on him and the Seahawks get a deal done with Okung, then Smith is suddenly the best player on the open market.
What say you guys?