The San Francisco 49ers signed guard Laken Tomlinson to a three-year contract extension on Friday, inking him through 2021. The deal is reportedly worth up to $18 million with $10 million in guarantees, but we do not have full details quite yet.
There have been a variety of responses to the decision to extend Tomlinson. Once we have contract figures we’ll run a poll to see how people feel about it. The dollars are really what will inform us of this deal.
Tomlinson struggled early in the year, but he showed progress as the season wore on. Part of that was due to Jimmy Garoppolo’s, but part of it was likely due to simply getting more comfortable. The 49ers acquired Tomlinson on August 31st, likely in response to the decision they would later announce to place Joshua Garnett on injured reserve. Tomlinson was inactive Week 1, but in the starting lineup at left guard Week 2 through the end of the season.
Our friend Jeff Deeney, an analyst at Pro Football Focus, had some insight into Tomlinson’s performance last season. The first four games, Tomlinson ranked among the worst under PFF’s grading metrics. He ranked 44th or worse among guards each of those first four weeks. The remaining 11 weeks, he ranked 40th or worse in two games, and 20th or better in five games. The remaining games he ranked between 26th and 31st.
According to PFF’s metrics, Tomlinson finished the season ranked 32nd out of 77 guards. For the final games of the season, with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at quarterback, he graded out as a top ten guard. It’s a small sample size, but it’s interesting to consider the possibilities. Garoppolo’s quick release and generally improved quarterback play over C.J. Beathard and Brian Hoyer likely played a big role in the improvement. But improvement is improvement.
Tomlinson now has a full offseason under his belt, and is securely in place as the team’s starting left guard. It remains to be seen how far he develops this year, but the 49ers seem pretty comfortable with him for the time being. The contract numbers will tell us more, but he has a big opportunity in front of him.