The San Francisco 49ers made three roster moves on Sunday. They announced they have released offensive lineman Erik Pears and tight end Busta Anderson. Additionally, Adam Schefter reported the team traded offensive guard Brandon Thomas to the Detroit Lions for Jeremy Kerley. The moves have varying impacts, so I thought we’d take a look at each move individually. We’ll start with the Pears release, considering the lack of support he had among most 49ers fans.
The move sort of brings things full circle on the offensive line. Pears was signed prior to the 2015 season to be the team’s primary reserve offensive lineman, with Joe Staley and Anthony Davis starting at left and right tackle, respectively. Of course, Davis retired a few months later, and Pears moved into the starting lineup at right tackle. He later moved to right guard for the final two games of the season, after Alex Boone got hurt and Andrew Tiller moved to left guard.
Trent Brown replaced Pears at right tackle for the final two games, and has been handling the first team work since. Of course, we saw Anthony Davis return to the roster this year, and compete at right tackle. Pears focused exclusively on the left side this offseason. Davis was playing second string right tackle, and now is moving to guard as it seems Brown is the clear starter there.
The big question now is what this means for the swing tackle role. This could be like Alex Boone’s situation, where he was the starting left guard and also the swing tackle. Davis has not played left tackle in the NFL, so it is also possible the team will look to John Theus, Fahn Cooper, or Colin Kelly for such a role. Whomever it is, it won’t be Erik Pears.