We discussed how the 49ers would address their right tackle position this morning since Mike McGlinchey is an unrestricted free agent. On Wednesday, the Tennessee Titans released Taylor Lewan after a series of injuries.
Instantly, fans put up the bat signal for John Lynch. But there are a few red flags that should keep San Francisco from pursuing Lewan. First, and most importantly, he’s not a right tackle. Lewan has only played on the left side during his career.
Unlike in a video game, you can’t just put a player on the other side of the line and expect a seamless transition. Also, Lewan said this during the offseason in 2016 if the Titans had taken Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, which would’ve moved Lewan to the right side:
“To me, honestly, I never thought anything of it because I know I’m not a right tackle,” Lewan said Saturday, via The Tennessean. “I’m a left tackle. I knew I was the left tackle for this team and I knew once I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. (Jon) Robinson and Coach (Mike) Mularkey that they would hear my piece and where I was from.
Lewan will be a popular choice for 49ers fans to replace McGlinchey, but he tore his ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season, missed five games in 2021 due to other issues with his knee, and only started two games last year due to injury.
Even if it’s for one season on a “prove it” deal, it’s hard to imagine Lewan’s injuries all of a sudden going away. As San Francisco looks to build around Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, the last thing they’d want is to have to worry about their right tackle missing time, which he’s proven to based on recent history.
Assuming Lewan would be an upgrade over McGlinchey is a leap of faith. In 2021, Lewan allowed five sacks and had a blown block rate of 3.3 in pass protection on 431 snaps. Coincidentally, that was the same number as McGlinchey this past season.
But McGlinchey was better than league average in pressure rate allowed, sack plus hit rate, and his stats against the run, as you may guess, were hovering around the top-10.
McGlinchey will be an upgrade for some team this offseason. He’s going to get paid. For the 49ers, they might not have a choice to downgrade. But the answer isn’t a tackle on the wrong side of 30 with injuries that have held him back for three consecutive seasons.
The 49ers would be better served to roll with one of the in-house options on the roster such as Colton McKivitz or Jaylon Moore than crossing their fingers in hopes of Lewan staying healthy.