The San Francisco 49ers are officially into the offseason following a 2018 season that did not meet expectations. The team entered with hopes of contending for a playoff appearance, but stumbled to a 4-12 record after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn ACL in Week 3.
Expectations will climb again in 2019, but before we get into that, it’s time to take a look back at the season that was for the current roster. There will be turnover in the coming months, but I thought we’d start the offseason with a stock report on the roster. We’ll go through each position group and offer stock up or stock down for each player, and then stock up or stock down for the position group as a whole. Today we move on to the offensive line.
Joe Staley: No change
Staley will be retiring sooner rather than later, but he put together another really solid season. He will have the occasional blunder in pass protection, but he is one of the steadier left tackles in the league. At this point in his career, he has leveled off into a strong presence on the left side. It says something that he has yet to decline, even at 34 years of age. One could argue he is stock up since he’s still doing it at his current age, but I’m more inclined to think he’s just a quality steady eddy on the left side.
Mike McGlinchey: Stock up
It was an up and down year for the 49ers first round pick, but he showed he belongs in the NFL. He was downright dominant at times as a run blocker, and he showed improvement as a pass blocker. The latter is the area he needs to take a step forward in for 2019, but I don’t know that we could have asked for much more in 2018 from the 49ers first round pick.
Mike Person: Stock slightly down
If this was the midpoint, I might be inclined to say stock slightly up. He struggled a bit down the stretch, and I decided on stock slight down over no change. The 49ers will go into 2019 with the other four positions retaining their starter in 2019. Does Person get another one-year deal, or does Joshua Garnett get an opportunity (or both)?
Laken Tomlinson: Stock up
The 49ers acquired him in a trade right before the start of the 2017 season, and he proceeded to start every snap prior to tearing his MCL in the season finale. He was signed to a three-year contract extension this past offseason, and I’d say he earned his keep in 2018. He’s not going to regularly jump off the film at observers, but he was plenty capable at left guard. The 49ers could invest in an upgrade, but Tomlinson showed he is worth hanging onto for another year.
Weston Richburg: Stock down
The 49ers invested big in Richburg, in hopes he would fill the all-important center position in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. 2018 turned into a brutal year for Richburg. He had his issues in run blocking, but it seemed like he was regularly beat inside by pass rushers. He also dealt with a knee injury much of the season. Ideally this is just a matter of getting healthy this offseason, and then comfortable enough to show improvement in the second year. Either way, he is on the hot seat heading into 2019.
Erik Magnuson: Stock down
A solid 2017 helped Magnuson earn a utility spot with the ability to play any of the five offensive line positions. After a handful of snaps, he got some time in place of an injured Weston Richburg in Week 5, and then started in his place in Week 8. The latter performance was a rough one, including a bad snap that cost them late. Magnuson did not play another offensive snap the rest of the season. He is not out of the running for a reserve spot in 2019, but I expect the 49ers to add some competition.
Joshua Garnett: Stock down
Garnett looked ready to take the right guard spot in training camp, only to suffer a knee injury in the first week of camp. He returned for the second week of the preseason, but he could never get past Mike Person on the depth chart. He got some work when injuries popped up, appearing in five games, including just under half of the season finale after Laken Tomlinson tore his MCL. He was perfectly capable, but his status for 2019 and beyond is a big question mark. The 49ers are unlikely to exercise his fifth year option for 2020 this spring, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still claim a starting job this summer.
Garry Gilliam: No change
Gilliam got some work early in the season in Week 1 when Mike Person got hurt, and then again in Week 4 when Joe Staley got hurt. Other than that it was a handful of snaps here and there. He’s a swing tackle you hope does not get much in the way of starting work, and that’s about it. The 49ers know what they have in him.
Shon Coleman: No change
The 49ers acquired Coleman at the end of training camp, dealing a seventh round pick to the Cleveland Browns for him. He was inactive the entire season, thanks primarily to the 49ers offensive line staying healthy for the most part. The big question is whether the team saw a guy they want to develop for 2019, or if he’s somebody they thought would develop into more this past season. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
Overall position: Stock slightly up
The emergence of McGlinchey in his first year, coupled with Tomlinson’s continued development and Staley’s steady presence make me feel relatively comfortable with the group. This grade is also based a bit on the hope that Richburg gets healthy and improves in his second year in Shanahan’s scheme. This could easily go south if we don’t see improvement from McGlinchey and Tomlinson, and the right guard is a question mark as well, but overall, I’m optimistic about what this unit can do together with a full season of Jimmy Garoppolo behind them.