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49ers 90-in-90: OG Joshua Garnett

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is offensive guard Joshua Garnett.

NFL: New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers drafted Joshua Garnett after trading back into the first round of the 2016 draft. Thus far, Garnett has failed to live up the expectations of his pre-draft billing. As a rookie, Garnett struggled, particularly as a pass blocker and he missed the entirety of his second season due to a combination of injury and a desire from the new coaching staff for him to change his body. In his absence, the 49ers traded for 2015 first round pick Laken Tomlinson who improved as the season went on and the team has also signed former Cardinals first round pick Jonathan Cooper.

Though none of these players have performed like first round draft picks so far in their careers, there is certainly more good quality NFL film on Tomlinson and Cooper, and Garnett will have a fight on his hands to secure a starting spot for the regular season. However, he does have an excellent opportunity over the next few weeks, with Cooper being unable to participate in practices due to injury until training camp. Garnett needs to take advantage of the head start he has been given and earn a starting spot. If he does it will give him a great opportunity to secure his future in the Bay for a little longer, as the 49ers will have to make a decision on his fifth year option at the end of this season.

Basic info

Age: 24
Experience: Third season (following what was essentially a redshirt second season)
Height: 6’5
Weight: 302lbs

Cap Status

Garnett is entering the third season of his rookie contract. He has a cap hit of $2,537,539 and a dead cap of $$2,537,539 if he were to be cut.

Why he might improve in 2018

Multiple beat writers have noted Garnett’s body transformation - he has dropped around 25lbs in weight in order to make him a better fit in the 49ers’ outside zone scheme. This should make him far more efficient in the run game - something the 49ers clearly place considerable emphasis on given their decision to get rid of Trent Brown and favour of a better run blocker in rookie Mike McGlinchey.

Furthermore, the hope is that having another offseason with NFL coaching will improve Garnett’s technique as a pass blocker, where he has struggled significantly and openly criticised in training camp in the past.

Why he might regress in 2018

Whilst his weight loss may help him in the run game, it will be interesting to see if it affects him negatively in the passing game - which would only serve to decrease Garnett’s chances of beating out Tomlinson and/or Cooper for a starting role. Failing to get a starting role, whilst not specifically a regression, would represent a major disappointment.

Odds of making the roster

Barring injury, and if the 49ers’ roster composition remains similar, one would expect Garnett to be one of the three guards on the active roster, along with Tomlinson and Garnett. The versatility of both Weston Richburg and Eric Magnuson could count against him however, with both players capable of covering guard and centre. If Garnett does fail to make the roster, I anticipate him being used as trade bait rather than being cut outright, as a guard-needy team might take a flier on a Garnett reclamation job.