Erik Magnuson is an offensive lineman who can play any position on the line, a very valuable trait for a backup. The problem is that he doesn’t appear very good at any of them. He has seen limited action over the last two years, and it hasn’t been pretty (especially when he starts due to injury).
In 2017, he filled in at tackle for two games when Trent Brown was injured. The first, against the Eagles, was a disaster; C.J. Beathard took five sacks, and Magnuson was responsible for two of them. The following week was better; he allowed two hurries per PFF, though the guards flailed and some of that might have been weak coordination with Magnuson at tackle.
Last year, he filled in at center, against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, his bad snap at the end of the game killed a potential game-tying drive, The 49ers had the ball at Arizona’s 45 yard line with seven seconds left, needing about ten yards for a game-tying field goal attempt, but the bad snap ended that hope. He didn’t get another chance like that all year.
Experience: 2 accrued seasons
Magnuson is in the final year of his undrafted free agent rookie contract. 2019 pays $645,000—if he makes the team. If cut, the remaining 1⁄3 of his $4,000 signing bonus — $1,334 — is the only dead money and the team keeps the rest.
What to expect in 2019
In addition to on-field performance that’s shaky at best, Magnuson has had a lot of injuries, in his limited playing time. He played through torn ligaments in the last game of his rookie season, suffered a torn hamstring near the end of the 2018 training camp, and is currently dealing with an “undisclosed” injury. That isn’t helping his odds.
He has been a willing and hard worker with a good attitude all along; if he makes the roster there is no reason to doubt that he’ll improve. The team may be reluctant to try him at center again, whether you think his past at the position was fair or unfair, so guard or OL utility man may be his best shot.
Odds of making the roster
The Niners carried 9 offensive linemen last year; of the four subs, three are still on the roster — Magnuson, guard Joshua Garnett (a 2016 first round pick) and Shon Coleman. This offseason the 49ers drafted a tackle (Vanderbilt’s Justin Skule) in the 6th round and signed UDFA Ross Reynolds and veteran FAs Ben Garland and Wesley Johnson, plus a few camp bodies.
It’s clear the team wants more competition on the offensive line, which is not a good sign for Magnuson. He’s young, knows this system as well as anyone and remains versatile; but he’s going to have to beat out at least three of those players to make the team.
The rules for practice squad eligibility are confusing, but I think Magnuson is eligible under the revised regulations. If so, that’s the most likely outcome, barring an injury to someone above him in the depth chart.