The San Francisco 49ers roster overhaul did not feature a lot of huge changes on the offensive line. The team is looking at a new center in Jeremy Zuttah, and they signed some veteran competition in Brandon Fusco, Garry Gilliam, and Tim Barnes. But while they spent the draft getting even younger on defense, attempts to improve the offense, and the offensive line in particular was through veteran additions.
Earlier this week, Pro Football Focus put together a ranking of offensive lines across the NFL. Not surprisingly, the 49ers ranked far down the list. PFF ranked them No. 27. Teams below them included in the New York Giants, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Seattle Seahawks. Here’s what PFF had to say about the 49ers:
Left tackle Joe Staley is the only saving grace for the 49ers, but at 32 years old, even he isn’t the All Pro force he once was. If there is any hope for this line, it comes in the form of guard Josh Garnett. The first-round pick in 2016 was a nightmare in pass protection as a rookie, finishing dead last in pass-blocking efficiency.
The 49ers offense will be interesting to track with the addition of Kyle Shanahan and a host of players familiar with his system. However, the offensive line will dictate a lot of what this offense can and will do. PFF mentions Joshua Garnett as a reason for hope. I’d say he and Trent Brown both deserve some mention there. Both find themselves in significant competitions this offseason. Garnett, Zane Beadles, and Brandon Fusco are competing for two guard roles, while Brown is competing with Garry Gilliam for the right tackle role. The young talent is there, but the month of August will tell us plenty about what kind of opportunity they’ll earn.
But in terms of 2017, the most important addition might be Jeremy Zuttah. The team added Zuttah in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. In Cleveland and again in Atlanta, center Alex Mack was a big reason both teams found success. Zuttah is not generally viewed as being on Mack’s level, but if he can build some consistency at center, it would be a big help.