The San Francisco 49ers are going to have to re-shape some portion of their interior offensive line this offseason. Daniel Kilgore came on late, but the guard position was loaded with inconsistency. Brandon Fusco had some solid games early, and Laken Tomlinson had a solid game or two late, but both struggled to get anything going with any regularity.
The 49ers could end up adding Quenton Nelson or another guard via the draft, but they also can expect to get Joshua Garnett back. The 49ers 2016 first round pick struggled in 2016, and after suffering a training camp knee injury this pas August, he was placed on injured reserve.
Garnett’s injury did not need to be season-ending, but general manager John Lynch said the decision was to take a long-term approach in his rehab. Garnett is more of a power blocker, and the 49ers have moved to a zone-blocking scheme under Kyle Shanahan. The goal was to re-shape Garnett’s body, and get him ready to take full advantage of a starting opportunity in 2018.
Shortly before the end of the year, Garnett sat down with The Athletic’s David Lombardi. They talked about his in-season work, and his plans for the 2018 season. Garnett told Lombardi he is working on getting his body fat down and improving his flexibility. Garnett played at 325 at Stanford, but is working his way down to around 305 or 310. He said he does not want to get too light, but some of the best offensive guards in the NFL are playing at a good deal lighter than 325.
“The Zack Martins (Dallas Cowboys), the David DeCastros (Pittsburgh Steelers), all the guys who are great NFL guards right now, none of those guys are 325. All of those guys are 300-310 and really athletic and really fast. That’s what I’m trying to model myself after.”
Although he is dropping weight, he said he is the strongest he’s ever been. He posted an Instagram video the other day of one of his best weight-lifting performances thus far.
Garnett is not just working on his body composition. He felt his biggest physical weakness was in knee bend. He said he had tight ankles and hips, and feels the flexibility and other work has him much improved from last year in that regard.
Brandon Fusco is due to hit free agency in March, while Laken Tomlinson is signed through 2018. Erik Magnuson played some right tackle this year, but scouting reports project him as a guard in the NFL. The 49ers will be looking for more options, but Garnett has a significant opportunity to re-secure a starting spot.