The San Francisco 49ers chose to exercise the fifth year option on defensive lineman Arik Armstead earlier this week, but have decided not to do so for offensive guard Laken Tomlinson.
The team announced the Armstead decision, which they had to prior to a Thursday deadline. They did not say anything at the time about Tomlinson, but Tuesday evening, general manager John Lynch confirmed to KNBR (via NBC Sports Bay Area) that the team will not exercise the option. He acknowledged the decisions are sometimes tricky, particularly given the fact that the offensive line number is skewed by offensive tackle contracts.
That being said, Lynch made it clear the team wants to potentially get something done with Tomlinson.
“I actually pulled Laken in here yesterday and had a great talk with him about, in no way is this a reflection of what we think or don’t think of him. In fact, we’re gonna work towards making Laken a part of us for the long-term future around here. It’s just, these are decisions you have to make. The numbers are different at each position. Offensive guard was a little skewed because they include all offensive linemen -- tackles get paid a lot so that number was extremely high.
”But we’ve already been talking with Laken’s guys about trying to make something happen, and we’ll see if that goes into next year.”
It’s safe to say we should take any comments about contract extensions with a grain of salt, but Tomlinson’s status will be one to watch heading into training camp. He is competing with Jonathan Cooper, Joshua Garnett, and Erik Magnuson for the two starting guard positions.
The 49ers did not address the position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which suggests they are comfortable moving forward with this group. Tomlinson and Cooper are free agents next year. Meanwhile, the team will have to decide next offseason whether or not they want to pick up Garnett’s fifth year option. Meanwhile, Magnuson is entering year two of his three-year UDFA deal. Given the shorter UDFA deal, the 49ers can begin negotiating a contract extension with him next offseason. If they let him play out his three year deal, he will be a restricted free agent after the 2019 season.
All of this is to say, I have no idea if Tomlinson will be on the roster a year from now, but if Magnuson and Garnett can emerge as viable options, I’d be surprised if he was.