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Chris Foerster praises Colton McKivitz and leaves no doubt about his starting spot

Much like Spencer Burford, McKivitz won’t have to worry about looking over his shoulder

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The writing was on the wall for the 49ers and their plan to replace Mike McGlinchey at RT in 2023. From Kyle Shanahan’s comments to the team passing on Blake Freeland in the NFL Draft, Colton McKivitz was in the driver’s seat for the starting RT position.

Offensive line coach Chris Foerster was available following the second OTA session open to the media, and he left no doubt about McKivitz and the confidence the team has in his ability.

Foerster’s press conference opened with questions about RT and McKivitz:

Obviously, you had a big change at right tackle with Denver Broncos T Mike McGlinchey leaving this off-season, what is your confidence level in OL Colton McKivitz and where does that kind of stem from?

“Colton, he’s done a great job for us through the years he’s been here. He’s always had to fill in short spells and has done a good job for us. I think that knowing the job is his coming into it and it’s his job to lose kind of, although there will be guys that are there to compete if it doesn’t work out. I think it is also going to help build his confidence. He is good for the position. Mike McGlinchey is one of the best run-blocking tackles in the NFL. Whether I say it, PFF says it, whoever says it. Colton probably won’t be quite that, but he is a very good run blocker and his protection is really solid and consistent. He’s got a consistent personality. He’s a really tough, hardworking guy. He’s a great character guy. Kind of like last year when we talked about the interior three players, he’s made of the right stuff. He’s actually played more snaps than those interior three guys last year had played and so it’s just about a matter of getting out and starting week in and week out and not feeling like you’re a short-term guy that has to get it done for one week. This now is your job to kind of work with and play through, so I’m excited for his opportunity. Once you get out there and things start going, you hope he hangs in there. I already told him, I think we’re going to camp against the Raiders. They drafted a really high rusher [Las Vegas Raiders DL Tyree Wilson] and they have a rusher that is pretty darn good too, 98 [Las Vegas Raiders DL Maxx Crosby]. It is going to be a challenge right out of the gate, just in training camp and the first preseason game, so he’ll have a lot to go through this season, but we have a lot of confidence in the guy.”

We didn’t get to see a whole lot of him last year, but he didn’t let up, over his small sample, a lot in pass protection. Did he take big strides?

“He did. Last year he was playing as well as he’d ever played and he was in the Rams game, the home Rams game, and his knee. Here’s a shocker, he was blocking his guy and then [Los Angeles Rams DL] Aaron Donald kind of got loose on the left side and got shoved into him and his knee, it was just kind of a weird thing and so he had a minor knee thing that that took him out for a few weeks. And when he came back, it wasn’t like he wasn’t the same guy, but he just never quite got back to that level and he never really had to play the rest of the year short of a mop up thing at the end of a game.”

How do you think he grew from that trial by fire in Week 18 in 2021?

“Oh yeah, no doubt about it. Colton’s been through a lot here and the thing about him was we released him I think it was his second season after his second training camp. And that was a wake up. If you talk to him about it, that would probably be his wake-up call in the NFL. Nobody claimed him and we brought him back on our practice squad. And to him, that was one of those things where he kind of thought, well, I was drafted. I’m going to be here. I’m going to get my opportunities and you come to realize that nothing’s guaranteed and so we brought him back in a practice squad role and he was a different guy from that moment on. His jaw was set and we activated him later in the year and that kid, he’s been all business, all work, all about being the best he can be. Last season during camp, and you nailed it, he was playing as well as he’s ever played. Coming out of that Week 18 game a couple years ago against the Rams and then obviously into this season when he had to fill in.”

McKivitz’s performance in a win-or-go-home game against Aaron Donald and the Rams is what many point to as a cause for optimism in his ability. Replacing Trent Williams is no easy feat. Replacing Williams in what is essentially a playoff game and delivering isn’t any easier.

For better or worse, it’s McKivitz’s job to lose. It helps for the coaching staff and organization to be on the same page.