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49ers offensive tackles: Better, worse, or same in 2017?

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A position by position look at the San Francisco 49ers’ roster, and whether the team is better, worse, or the same as the 2016 roster. Other positions: QB | RBWR | TEOT | OG | C | LB | CB | S

The San Francisco 49ers face a lot of questions surrounding their roster in 2017, with the new front office and coaching staff bringing numerous changes. It is going to take some time to figure out where this team stands. The team was incredibly active in free agency, and followed that with plenty of work in the 2017 NFL Draft.

With that in mind, I thought we would take a look at each position, compare it to various points last year, and consider whether the unit is better, worse, or the same compared to last year. The table includes the current group of players, and then a list of players on the 90-man roster for the first preseason game, the players on the Week 1 53-man roster, and the players on the Week 17 53-man roster. The idea is to compare this year with last year across the board. The roster changes from August to December, so I’m including three separate markers just to provide an overall view of the position last year.

We move on to the offensive tackle position.

Offensive tackle changes, 2016-to-2017

Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Joe Staley Joe Staley Joe Staley Joe Staley
Trent Brown Erik Pears Trent Brown Trent Brown
Garry Gilliam Anthony Davis (Anthony Davis) John Theus
(Zane Beadles) Trent Brown John Theus (Zane Beadles)
John Theus John Theus Norman Price (PS) Colin Kelly (PS)
Darrell Williams Norman Price N/A Norman Price (PS)
Norman Price Colin Kelly N/A N/A

Last year, we looked at the offensive line as a whole, but I thought it might make more sense to try and split it up by position. For practice squad and end of the roster preseason players, I did some estimating. Additionally, Zane Beadles played all over the line, so I included him in all three. He was primarily a guard, but his versatility was helpful for a line decimated by injury last season.

The 49ers will return with Joe Staley at left tackle, but right tackle has gotten a little more interesting. Trent Brown held down the job last year, but now he faces competition from Garry Gilliam. The 49ers signed Gilliam away from the Seattle Seahawks as a restricted free agent. He was not particularly good in Seattle, but there is some hope that in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, his athleticism might prove a little more useful. And if Brown can’t keep his weight under control, the 49ers will need an alternative.

The loser of the competition between Brown and Gilliam would seem to be the front-runner for swing tackle, but it’s also possible the 49ers decide that Beadles’ ability to play anywhere on the line retains a bit more value.

The unit is fairly similar to the end of last season, albeit with the addition of Gilliam. However, things were all over the place early on last season. Anthony Davis returned from retirement, and was getting work at guard. He was active Week 1, but then inactive Weeks 2 and 3, before retiring once again. The team spent a draft pick on John Theus, but he didn’t work his way into active status until Week 14. He got one start at right tackle, when Joe Staley was hurt and Trent Brown moved to left tackle.

How do you compare the offensive tackles to last year? The two big potential differences would be whether or not Gilliam claims the starting job and how Trent Brown looks in a more zone-based blocking scheme. The 49ers have mixed in zone work in recent years, so it is not a completely new transition. However, it will be a difference given the volume of zone-blocking we’re going to see in this new scheme.

Poll

Are the 49ers better, worse, or the same at OT in 2017 as compared to 2016?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Better
    (418 votes)
  • 4%
    Worse
    (42 votes)
  • 49%
    Same
    (442 votes)
902 votes total Vote Now