On April 23, 2019, the San Francisco 49ers signed Ben Garland, who had mainly been a backup during his days with the Falcons and Kyle Shanahan. Garland has always played well in limited action, so getting a player that could play both guard and center was going to provide much-needed depth. Garland ended up playing more snaps than the team had hoped when Weston Richburg was lost for the season during Week 14. Garland would go on to play the next six games, including the playoffs. The more Garland played, the more comfortable he looked.
Garland impressed enough to earn another one-year contract for 2020, this time worth $2.25 million. From Week’s 14 through the Super Bowl, Garland allowed zero sacks and only one quarterback hit. In the playoffs, especially, is when Garland showed his value in the running game. He’s is a quality backup lineman to have. I’m interested in whether Garland gets an opportunity to start at right guard or if the team will leave him to backup Richburg.
Age: 32 (birthday is on April 6)
Experience: Six seasons
Weight 308 lbs
Garland’s cap number in 2020 will be $2 million. His base salary is $1.75 million, with a $250,000 roster bonus. Garland’s guaranteed salary is $1.13 million. If the 49ers cut Garland, they’d have to pay him his guaranteed salary and save $862,500.
What to expect in 2020
This time last year, we were discussing if Garland could beat out Joshua Garnett and Eric Magnuson. What a difference a year makes. Garland’s experience in Shanahan’s offense seemed to help down the stretch. Garland was athletic enough to handle his assignments both in the run and passing game and strong enough where bigger interior linemen didn’t overwhelm him.
Ideally, Garland doesn’t step on the field in 2020, and the 49ers starters play every snap. We know football doesn’t work that way, though. I’d expect much of the same we in 2020 from Garland that we saw last year. A solid player that might not be at the same level as your starter, but the drop-off isn’t steep enough where you can’t run your offense.
Odds of making the roster
Garland proved he was serviceable as a starter. If it costs the 49ers $1.13 to cut Garland, they’re not going to release him. There’s no real reason to, anyway—unless someone like Ross Reynolds or a younger lineman plays at a level during the preseason where you have no choice to give them a roster spot. That remains unlikely, and even if so, the 49ers would probably cut a face that wasn’t as familiar as Garland’s.