The San Francisco 49ers are expected to sign veteran free agent guard Brandon Fusco this week, and now we can confirm another name. A week after bringing in center Tim Barnes for a visit, the 49ers have signed the free agent, according to NFL reporter Jim Thomas.
I checked in with Joe McAtee from Turf Show Times to get his thoughts on Barnes. He had this to say:
Tim Barnes joined the Rams as a depth addition in 2011. Initially on the practice squad, Barnes climbed the position ladder as injuries to Scott Wells pushed everyone up a rung. When the Rams drafted Barrett Jones out of Alabama with a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, it seemed the heir apparent to Wells had arrived. Not so.
When Wells retired after the 2014 season, the Rams held a three-way tryout for the starting gig between Barnes, Jones and Demetrius Rhaney, a seventh-round pick. Barnes, somewhat unpredictably, won out. His services as the starting center were lacking, though that's not necessarily surprising given how much he had to climb just to make it to that point. He's a willing blocker with decent athleticism for the position, but lacks power and struggled in the zone blocking scheme the Rams tried to implement in the final years under Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
There's no reason he can't compete for a backup spot with you guys ... but y’all have Jeremy Zuttah. A backup spot is all that's available.
The 49ers did not add any offensive line depth in the 2017 NFL draft, but have instead focused on veteran additions. The team acquired center Jeremy Zuttah in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens, and signed restricted free agent tackle Garry Gilliam. They join a line that heading into the offseason started, from left to right, Joe Staley, Zane Beadles, Daniel Kilgore, Joshua Garnett, and Trenton Brown.
The offensive linemen in this class had enough questions that it is not surprising the 49ers would look elsewhere for help. Zuttah could win the starting center job. Gilliam struggled at times, but will get a chance to push Trenton Brown at right tackle. Barnes seems to most likely to be all but certain of securing no more than a back-up role. While there are questions about a lot of this group, the 49ers could be looking at more offensive line depth than they’ve had since the height of the Jim Harbaugh era. If the starters can stay healthy, it would be a step in the right direction.