The San Francisco 49ers offensive line appeared set to be a significantly improved group in 2016. The team welcomed back Anthony Davis, saw Trent Brown start to emerge as a force at right tackle, signed Zane Beadles into a scheme that better suited his skills, and moved up into the first round to grab guard Joshua Garnett. Although Garnett did not claim a starting role with the return of Davis, the depth was looking very solid.
Of course, this optimism was predicated on some semblance of stability along the line. And yet, 48 hours before the 49ers season opener, that stability faltered. Anthony Davis reportedly departed the 49ers to meet with family and consider retirement. Jennifer Lee Chan reported he had some concerns about his position switch, but a discussion with Trent Baalke assuaged his conerns.
After the initial reports of retirement consideration, Cam Inman reported that Andrew Tiller would be the next man up at right guard. The 49ers drafted Joshua Garnett for a long-term role, but they also had him focusing on left guard for the latter part of training camp. Tiller has practiced at right guard all offseason, and was getting first team work before Davis made his move from tackle to guard.
Now that Davis may not be retiring, it is hard to tell what the plan will be for Monday. If he was concerned about the position change, did the discussion result in him becoming strictly a tackle again? Chip Kelly said he would be the team’s swing tackle while also playing right guard. If Davis is going to continue playing guard, it would seem like if you’ve had a fruitful discussion, then you start him. If you’re not comfortable starting him after his hesitations, I’m not sure what would change that decision.
So, we’re left to wait and see what tomorrow brings with the announcement of the starting lineup. The team does not have media availability between now and Monday kickoff, so unless Trent Baalke chats with media in pre-game, or someone leaks some more information, we won’t know what the plan is until Monday night.