49ers' play for O-line depth sign of weak draft class

49ers' play for O-line depth sign of weak draft class

Behind the 49ers' presumptive starting offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown is John Theus, who played 88 snaps as a rookie last season.

The general belieft is this year’s draft does not hold a bounty of prospects along the offensive line. That would explain why the 49ers made a play Monday to increase depth at a position of need with the signing of restricted free agent Garry Gilliam to a one-year offer sheet.

The Seattle Seahawks have five days to match the reported one-year, $2.2 million contract that includes $1.4 million in guaranteed money.

Gilliam started 29 games the past two seasons at right tackle for the Seahawks. Trent Brown started 16 games at right tackle for the 49ers last season. He won the starting job to thwart Anthony Davis’ comeback attempt with a strong training camp.

But Brown’s play leveled off during the regular season, and with a change to Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system, there is no harm in creating competition for the starting job.

If nothing else, the pursuit of Gilliam could give the 49ers three offensive tackles with significant starting experience.

Gilliam’s time as a starter with the Seahawks appeared to be coming to an end, anyway. Seattle general manager John Schneider told Seattle-area reporters at the recent owners meetings that Germain Ifedi, the team’s first-round draft pick a year ago, would move from right guard to right tackle this season.

Last season, the 49ers’ backup swing tackle was guard Zane Beadles, who started 12 games at left guard, two games at left tackle and two games at center.

The 49ers set out this offseason to increase depth along the offensive line. The team acquired Jeremy Zuttah in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Zuttah was a Pro Bowl selection at center last year.

Zuttah can also play guard. The 49ers will have the flexibility to determine if the way to get the best five linemen on the field is to start Daniel Kilgore at center and have Zuttah compete at either guard spot against Beadles or Joshua Garnett.

Meanwhile, Gilliam’s possible addition – the Seahawks would not receive any compensation if they decide to let him walk – would provide the 49ers with insurance at the tackle position.

According to Pro Football Focus, Brown and Gilliam last season ranked near the bottom of the league among offensive tackles who played 60 percent or more of his team’s snaps.

Brown was 46th of 54, and PFF listed him as surrendering six sacks, two quarterback hits and 31 hurries. Gilliam was listed at No. 51 with two sacks allowed, six QB hits and 35 hurries. Gilliam’s run-blocking grade was slightly better than Brown’s, according to PFF’s grading system.

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”