The San Francisco 49ers extended Laken Tomlinson in the 2018 offseason rather than pick up his 5th year option, solidifying him as the team’s starting left guard. Considering his path to getting entrenched in the position, it’s pretty impressive.
Tomlinson came to the 49ers in a late-preseason trade from the Detroit Lions. His lack of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook and the regular season looming over the horizon spelled disaster, but instead, Tomlinson found himself starting as the season wore on and not giving the job to anyone else.
Tomlinson was a guest on Matt Maiocco’s 49ers Insider Podcast and discussed the transition to guard in Shanahan’s system so late into the 2017 season:
I think that was one of the first things I learned was how much different the work was for the guards compared to the system I was used to at the time. I trusted in it, I studied my butt off, I had veterans around me; Daniel Kilgore at the time, Joe Staley. I had those guys to lean on and the coaches as well; John Benton, coach [Adam] Stenavich. The system requires a lot from the guards, not only to be smart, but extremely agile, and they trusted that I could bring that to the table.
As per usual with Maiocco’s podcasts, the time stamps are below. You can listen using the widget above or go here.
00:47 - Comparing 2017 to 2018
01:31 - Hearing the news of being traded from Detroit to San Francisco
02:36 - The extension
03:01 - Being born in Jamaica
04:37 - Moving to Chicago
06:38 - Being competitive
10:22 - College recruitment
11:45 - Why he choose Duke, a “basketball” school
13:08 - College curriculum
14:58 - The inspiration of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
15:51 - Football’s evolution and his career after football
16:45 - Playing guard in Kyle Shanahan’s system
18:00 - Playing left guard while Mike McGlinchey gets plugged in at right
18:48 - Facing the Detroit Lions, his former team/what he learned with the Lions
20:00 - Protective of Jimmy Garoppolo in public?