The NFL season is winding down which means some players have contracts ending. Some players will get franchised or extended but others will be hitting the open market. We’ll take a look at each position and see if any hopeful players would be a good fit for the San Francisco 49ers.
Two things are certain: the 49ers have the tackle position locked down for 2019, but in 2020, things might not be so concrete. They have one starter in Mike McGlinchey. A starter whom if continues to improve, could be one of the league’s best On the other side of the line, they have Joe Staley, ever so fateful, but Father Time is unbeaten and the 49ers would be wise to have a solution in place to protect Jimmy Garoppolo’s blind side.
For that, it may make more sense to look to the NFL Draft, but the 49ers don’t have many picks this year. A younger player to develop does make more sense, however. No one knows when Staley will start to plateau or decide to bow out of it for good, so that would leave whoever they brought as a capable backup, able to slot in at Staley’s position. In this situation, a good swing tackle would be ideal. Perhaps someone to play guard in 2019 while preparing to be the successor to Staley or replace McGlinchey when the latter moves to the other side.
So if you want a free agent backup, here’s two things to look at from a free agent perspective. The first is age which, the youngest you will find is 25. The second is a system fit with Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
The first name that might be worth a look is Donovan Smith. Goes against what I just said about system fits, but he’s young and has shown some flashes. Maybe a few years studying is what the doctor ordered for his career? Our friends at Bucs Nation have a nice write up of Smith’s progress. The system fit concerns me, and he’s given up some bad pressures, but maybe worth a look.
Another player to look at is Cincinnati Bengals tackle Bobby Hart. This is not a guy I’d be looking to spell and take a starting position in the future, but he’d be good for insurance if something bad happened to Staley. Again, Hart isn’t someone I’d put confidence in to take the starting job, and he started all his games with the Bengals—meaning he’d want to start somewhere, but it’s worth a look.
Finally another name to look at is a familiar face. Trent Brown. The guy was traded to the New England Patriots after McGlinchey was selected by the Niners in 2018 and will now be appearing in a Super Bowl the very same season. If the Patriots don’t sign Brown long-term, someone else will. He’s too good to ride on the bench. While it’d be rather interesting to see him return and replace Staley or McGlinchey (that would be so odd), the chances of that happening are slim. Brown’s pass protection is second to none but his run blocking is on the other end of the spectrum. While the 49ers lost pass protection with McGlinchey, they gained a huge upgrade in run blocking and overall, a much more balanced player. Still, if you think Brown should come back, he’s available.
Here’s your free agent offensive tackles per Over the Cap. Things could change with franchise tags and deals, but all of the below have contracts expiring. Would you be interested in any of these tackles, coming to Santa Clara?
Free Agent Offensive Tackles