The San Francisco 49ers are interviewing Seattle Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable on Sunday, and it is fitting (aside from the fact that he seems to be a garbage human being) that Pro Football Focus posted their end-of-season offensive line rankings on Thursday.
PFF ranked out all 32 offensive lines, and the San Francisco 49ers finished ranked No. 28. The teams behind them were the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, and Seattle Seahawks. They graded Joe Staley as the 49ers top overall offensive lineman (No. 24 among OTs), Trenton Brown as the top pass-blocker (No. 31 among OTs), and Joe Staley as the top run-blocker (No. 12 among OTs). Here’s what they had to say about the 49ers:
We are entering the realms of units with almost nothing to point to in terms of positives coming out of the 2016 season. LT Joe Staley was solid, but had his worst season since 2011; pass protection was the facet in which he suffered the biggest drop. Everybody else on the line struggled, with the best performer ending the season with an overall grade of 72.8 (Daniel Kilgore). Carlos Hyde was the team’s leading rusher, but 662 of his 988 rushing yards came after contact, and QB Colin Kaepernick added 337 yards on pass-play scrambles alone, inflating the 49ers’ rushing numbers beyond what the line actually gave them with its blocking.
Whether you agree with PFF grading or not, I don’t think anybody doubts the issues this offensive line had. The Carlos Hyde stat is particularly notable, and has been something he has dealt with regularly the past two seasons. The team has Joe Staley locked up for the foreseeable future, and has worked to overhaul the group. They traded into the first round to add Joshua Garnett, and Trenton Brown has started to emerge as an at least intriguing option.
Last offseason, their primary free agency addition was Zane Beadles. He struggled at times, but with the injuries and the low performance bar, he proved to be quite valuable along the line. However, he is not a long-term option at guard. We saw Andrew Tiller and Marcus Martin get opportunities this year. Martin remains a problem, and Tiller remains better suited for more power attacks. It is something that will make for plenty of questions as the 49ers continue looking for their next head coach.