The San Francisco 49ers brought offensive tackle Garry Gilliam into town for a visit, and it appears they are trying to get something done. ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia is reporting the 49ers made a multi-year offer to Gilliam, but he turned it down. Kapadia said “[t]he lines of communication between Gilliam and the 49ers are still open.”
Gilliam is a restricted free agent with an original round tender. Since he was originally a UDFA, if the 49ers sign him to an offer sheet and the Seahawks do not match, Seattle gets no competition. If Gilliam does not agree to a deal, his RFA tender is worth $1.797 million. Given the initial rejection, it seems likely that the 49ers would have offered less than that in guaranteed money, or not enough more for Gilliam to want to lock himself into a multi-year deal.
Garry was a tight end at Penn State who the Seahawks saw as a potential Jason Peters-type project. He is huge and super athletic for his size, but he just wasn't a tackle ... yet. I actually think the project itself worked out quite well, because I mean he was an undrafted free agent playing a completely new position and he's managed to start 30 games in three seasons.
In 2015, Gilliam was downright decent as a right tackle and there was hope that he'd replace Russell Okung on the left side and perhaps even grow into being a high-caliber player there. Unfortunately, the left tackle decision was quickly abandoned over the summer, and I'm not sure if it was because his confidence was shaken or what, but then suddenly he was also much worse at right tackle than he had been a year earlier. Gilliam ended up starting 13 games overall but he was benched during the season and the only reason he came off the bench again was that Bradley Sowell and George Fant were also really bad.
In the end, Seattle offered him the lowest tender they could despite the fact that they are in trouble at tackle because he's still only 26 and it gives them a chance to not lose him without finding what the market thinks he's worth first. On the tender, Gilliam would cost just $1.8 million or so next year, which I think is fair for what he is. But if the 49ers or some other team were to sign him for like $3-4 million, I think that would be a bad deal. Similar to the bad deal the Seahawks gave J'Marcus Webb last year.
Gilliam was not good enough to keep a job on the team that had the worst tackles in the NFL. Maybe a different coach besides Tom Cable can unlock that, but there's at least as good of a chance that he won't be a full-time starter again.