The 49ers determined Joshua Garnett was the best run-blocking guard in this year’s draft.
Now, he is working hard to catch up with his pass protection. That has been the emphasis for Garnett, who figures to see significant playing time – and, perhaps, his first NFL start -- on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
“It’s something I’ve been trying to focus on ever since I got here,” Garnett said. “I feel like I’m making strides, and trying to get better every day, trying to build on things I did before and come out a brand new player each day.
“I think coming out of Stanford, everyone knew I was a big, powerful run-blocker. But I feel the pass pro is something I’m putting a lot of time and effort in.”
The 49ers wanted Garnett, the Outland Trophy winner, so much that they did not want to take the chance of another team getting him. General manager Trent Baalke engineered a deal with Kansas City in which the 49ers traded up nine spots to get back into the first round to grab Garnett with the No. 28 overall pick.
Coach Chip Kelly declined to say this week whether Garnett or Andrew Tiller, who started the first five games at right guard, would be in the starting lineup against the Bills. Kelly said the competition was ongoing.
“He’ll continue to play more and we’ll just kind of see how that goes based on how we are in training,” Kelly said of Garnett. “Hopefully, you’ll see both of those guys depending on how we go from a training standpoint.”
The 49ers would like to see more consistency with their run game. Although Carlos Hyde has gained 377 yards rushing, his average is 4.0 yards per attempt. Backup Shaun Draughn is averaging just 2.1 yards on his 25 rushing attempts, while Mike Davis has 5 yards on five carries.
Garnett played a season-high 18 snaps in the 49ers’ 33-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 6. Garnett was responsible for a sack late in the game that resulted in a safety. He blamed the sack on a “simple technique thing” that offensive line coach Pat Flaherty worked with him to identify and correct.