The San Francisco 49ers have officially been connected to their first free agent offensive lineman. ESPN’s Field Yates is reporting the team hosted Byron Bell for a visit this past weekend. Bell sat out the 2016 season after suffering a dislocated ankle in Tennessee Titans OTAs.
Bell is a versatile offensive lineman, having split his time in 2015 between guard and tackle. He played seven games at left guard, eight games at right tackle and one game at left tackle. Bell spent his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, and has played in 78 career games, with 72 starts.
It does not appear the Panthers attempted to re-sign Bell after the 2014 season. He signed a one-year deal with Tennessee, and after starting all 16 games, he signed another one-year deal before suffering the ankle dislocation.
Based on his past performance, Bell seems to be a guy best suited for a utility role at this point in his career. The 49ers currently have Joe Staley and Trent Brown at tackle, Zane Beadles and Joshua Garnett at guard, and Daniel Kilgore at center. We don’t know yet what changes the new coaching staff might have in store, but the lack of significant movement thus far could mean we’ll see the status quo in 2017.