The San Francisco 49ers need a lot of help on the interior of their offensive line, but they would appear to have their starters in place at the tackle positions. Joe Staley is settled in at left tackle, and Trent Brown is expected back at right tackle as he finishes his recovery from a torn labrum.
And yet, there are still questions bookending the offensive line. Staley had considered retirement at one point last year, but a talk with Kyle Shanahan got him back and excited about football. We know he will retire sooner rather than later, so a long-term option at left tackle is at least on the team’s radar.
When healthy, Brown can be among the best tackles in the game. However, he is also wildly inconsistent, both in game action, and in his preparation. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the big question right now is what kind of shape he will be in when he returns to football activities. He has always struggled to keep his weight down, and one wonders what months of rehab could mean in that regard.
The 49ers have plenty of pressing needs in the 2018 NFL Draft, but where does offensive tackle fit into it? We hear people talk about drafting a tackle and moving him to guard until he’s need back outside. Some players have that ability. Alex Boone was incredibly versatile in that regard during his time with the 49ers. But it’s not a simple trick, and not necessarily something that can automatically be counted on.
So what do you do if you’re the 49ers? Do you look for a day three diamond in the rough you can spend some time molding into an eventual starting tackle? The team extended Garry Gilliam to serve as the swing tackle, but we know they’ll replace a player as soon as they find somebody better. Does that happen this year?
Will Trent Brown be the 49ers starting right tackle Week 1 of the 2019 regular season?
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