We’re going to look at departures from each position prior to Week 1 of the 2018 season and see how they fared after leaving the San Francisco 49ers. Some players went on to better careers, while others may be out of the league. We won’t be highlighting every transaction, just some notable ones. Today, we look at the offensive line.
The 49ers offensive line has been a hot mess dating back to Jim Harbaugh’s final years when the likes of Marcus Martin were trying to make a name for themselves. The back half of 2017 brought improvement and major strides were made in 2018. The addition of Mike McGlinchey and emerging presence of Mike Person helped solidify things. The 49ers O-line is by no means a finished product, but it’s come a long way since Martin, Jordan Devey and others were opening up lanes for defensive linemen to plow through.
And with improvement and new faces meant trades or free agency walks. Here’s a list of the more notable departures that is no way complete. Note that with some exceptions, camp bodies, training camp transactions, and roster cuts during the season are not listed for the most part.
Daniel Kilgore (C)
Brandon Fusco (RG)
Trent Brown (LT)
Zane Beadles (G)
For a fifth-round pick, Kilgore managed to carve himself a role as a decent, though underwhelming starting center. Well, when he was healthy, anyways. Kilgore managed just one season of starting all 16 games in his seven years with the 49ers.
When 2018 free agency began, Kilgore had a contract in his hands with the 49ers and it looked like he’d stick around. Instead, the 49ers signed Weston Richburg and traded Kilgore to the Miami Dolphins and swapped seventh-round picks to seal the deal. The move leaves only one pick from the once lauded 2011 draft class (Mike Person)
It’s hard to assess how Kilgore’s season would have went with his new team. He only saw four games of action before he tore his triceps and was placed on injured reserve. Going into Week 3, he had a 56.7 rating on Pro Football Focus
Fusco signed with the 49ers in the 2017 offseason and managed to show a few bright spots in 2017, but was never someone that necessitated breaking the bank over in a new contract. He left for the Atlanta Falcons on a three-year, up to $12.75 million contract, an amount out of the 49ers’ budget. Fooch mentioned in his write-up above the 49ers could do better and the move freed up Mike Person to eventually win the role at right guard. As time went on, Person ended up being the solid choice.
Much like Kilgore, Fusco’s assessment is a bit premature. He played seven games before going on IR with an ankle injury.
Everyone’s scapegoat from 2017. After his release from the 49ers, Beadles signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons and was promptly sent to the sideline. In Week 13 due to poor play from Ben Garland, Beadles was named the starter.
In his five starts, he wound up not getting a single penalty. He also made PFF’s team of the Week in Week 17.
He’s a free agent again, so if you think the 49ers should roll the dice and bring him back, it’s always a possibility.
One of those very few Trent Baalke picks that worked out quite well. Brown was taken with a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. As the season wore on, Brown wrenched the starting job and became one of the league’s better pass-protecting tackles, getting praise from elite defenders like Von Miller.
Unfortunately, weight and conditioning issues kept him out of favor with Kyle Shanahan and a decision had to be made. Another factor was how Brown’s run blocking was nowhere near as good as his pass protection. The 49ers drafted Mike McGlinchey and sent Brown to the New England Patriots a day later.
In New England, Brown started all 16 games at left tackle (he played right in San Francisco), protecting Tom Brady’s blind side. 2016 and 2017 brought six false start penalties apiece and Brown has one to his name for 2018. On the flipside, he had one holding penalty in 2016 and 2017 each, but four for 2018, so pick your poison. For what it’s worth, Brown is about to start in his first Super Bowl. So he may be doing pretty well for himself.
As for any improvement in the move? This blurb from Pro Football Focus may sum up Brown the best:
The talk about Brown being ‘transformed’ by Dante Scarnecchia in New England is vastly overblown. He allowed nearly the same amount of pressures he did in his last full season in San Francisco (35 vs. 39 in 2016). While he gave up half as many sacks, his 12 hits allowed were the second-most of any tackle.Brown pretty much is what he is at this point; an incredibly large man who will alternate whiffs with dominant blocks.
Brown is entering 2019 as a free agent, so the 49ers could bring him back if they really saw a need to.
Would you like to have any of these linemen back on the team?