How 49ers' offensive line depth looks after recent veteran additions


How 49ers' offensive line depth looks after recent veteran additions

When the 49ers signed veteran guard Mike Person to a three-year contract extension a week before the start of the free-agent signing period, the club seemingly filled a draft need long before the draft.

The 49ers, it appeared, already had their starting offensive line for the 2019 season:
Left tackle – Joe Staley
Left guard – Laken Tomlinson
Center – Weston Richburg
Right guard – Mike Person
Right tackle – Mike McGlinchey

The 49ers kept nine offensive linemen on their 53-man roster last season. Seven of those players were among the 46 individuals allowed to suit up for regular-season games. The 49ers kept two other offensive linemen stashed away on the practice squad.

Currently, the 49ers have 11 players competing for those coveted backup spots after the additions the past two days of veteran center Wesley Johnson and guard Willie Beavers.

Here is a breakdown of the 49ers’ backup situation on the offensive line:

Returning backups

Joshua Garnett, guard – Former GM Trent Baalke traded up into the back end of the first round to select Garnett in the 2016 draft. Garnett started 11 games as a rookie with mixed results. He spent 2017 on injured reserve with a knee injury. Garnett (6-5, 305) appeared in seven games last year with no starts. The 49ers, as expected, declined the fifth-year option for the 2020 season. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Garnett could challenge Person for a starting job. He could also be dealt for a late-round draft pick, if that possibility arises.

Shon Coleman, tackle – The 49ers acquired Coleman just prior to the start of the 2018 regular season in a trade with Cleveland for a seventh-round draft pick. Coleman, a third-round draft pick in 2016, started all 16 games for the Browns in 2017. Coleman (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) was inactive for all 16 games last season with the 49ers, as Garry Gilliam served as the swing tackle behind Staley and McGlinchey. The 49ers cut Gilliam after the season, so Coleman now has the inside track as the team's primary backup at the tackle spots.

Erik Magnuson, center/guard – Magnuson won a roster spot as an undrafted rookie from Michigan in 2017. He has the versatility to play anywhere on the line, which a valuable commodity during the regular season. He started two games at tackle as a rookie, but was lost to a season-ending foot injury. Magnuson (6-4, 305) made one start at center last season, but never got into another game the rest of the season after a critical error on a bad snap late in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Veteran additions

Ben Garland, guard – He was a backup in 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons while Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. Garland, 31, can play either of the guard spots and is a good run blocker. Garland (6-5, 308) appeared in 30 games the past two seasons in Atlanta with seven starts. The 49ers signed Garland shortly before the draft.

Wesley Johnson, center – Richburg underwent extensive surgery on his left knee and quadriceps early in the offseason. The 49ers hope Richburg will be ready for the start of training camp. Johnson, 28, has bounced around in his five-year career. In 2015 and ’16, he appeared in 31 games with 23 starts for the New York Jets. Last year, the Detroit Lions released Johnson (6-5, 309) before the start of the regular season. He hooked on with Miami in October as a backup after former 49ers center Daniel Kilgore sustained a season-ending torn triceps. He appeared in 10 games last season with no starts. The 49ers signed him this week to a one-year contract.

Willie Beavers, guard – The Chicago Bears waived Beavers (6-5, 324) as part of the moves to clear space for undrafted rookies. The 49ers on Monday claimed him. Beavers, 25, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. He appeared in two games as a rookie, but has never again appeared in an NFL regular-season game.

Daniel Brunskill, tackle – After spending the past two seasons on the Falcons’ practice squad, Brunskill (6-5, 260) started eight games at tackle for the San Diego Fleet of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. The 49ers signed him last month, shortly after the AAF folded. He entered the NFL in 2017 as an undrafted rookie. He played his first three seasons at San Diego State as a tight end before converting to the offensive line as a senior. He has a lot of room to put on weight and get stronger.

[RELATED: Debating report of 'friction' between Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch]

Rookie additions

Justin Skule, tackle – The 49ers invested a sixth-round pick in Skule, who was a durable, effective player during his time at Vanderbilt. He concluded his college career with 40 consecutive starts. Skule (6-6, 318) allowed just one sack last season in 473 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. That sack allowed came against national leader Josh Allen of Kentucky. Allen was the No. 7 overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ross Reynolds, guard – He started just one season at Iowa and signed with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection. Reynolds (6-4, 295) went up against first-round draft pick Jeffrey Simmons of Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl. They were not matched up against each other often, but Simmons recorded a sack against Reynolds, who could also get practice time at center.

Practice squad

Najee Toran, guard – After joining the 49ers as an undrafted rookie from UCLA, he spent three weeks on the 53-man roster. He was active for one of those games but did not play. Toran (6-2, 305) began and finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad.

Christian DiLauro, tackle – DiLauro signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie last year from Illinois, where he had a streak of 31 consecutive starts. DiLauro (6-6, 300) spent the final 13 weeks of the season on the 49ers’ practice squad.

Why ESPN considers Kyle Juszczyk’s 49ers contract NFL's biggest outlier


Why ESPN considers Kyle Juszczyk’s 49ers contract NFL's biggest outlier

The 49ers paid Kyle Juszczyk handsomely to come aboard -- perhaps too handsomely.

San Francisco inked the fullback to a four-year, $21 million contract prior to the 2017 season, which is well above market rate for the position in today's NFL.

For the last few years, ESPN's Bill Barnwell has ranked the biggest outlier contracts in the NFL, those whose value is much more than the standard at their specific position. 

And for the third year in a row, Juszczyk took home the top prize as the NFL's biggest outlier contract.

"To put his four-year, $21 million deal in context, [Aaron] Donald would need to make about $108 million over three years to be similarly ahead of the defensive tackle market. Russell Wilson's four-year, $140 million extensions would need to be a four-year, $202.9 million deal to rank similarly ahead of the quarterback class," Barnwell writes.

"Nobody has joined the 49ers in rewarding the fullback position, either. Juszczyk is one of just four veteran fullbacks in the league signed to a deal of three seasons or more. The former Raven averages $5.3 million across that deal; the other three players average $5.6 million combined. Most of the league's multiyear deals at the position are rookie contracts, including several undrafted free agents. The only other fullback in the league with an average salary over $2 million is Patrick DiMarco, who is at $2.1 million."

As Barnwell goes on to explain, Juszczyk hasn't excelled as a runner -- rushing just 15 times for 61 yards -- and has fumbled four times in 98 touches, the fourth-worst fumble rate in the NFL.

Juszczyk hasn't thrived as a receiver, either, as he's hauled in 63 passes for 639 yards in the past two seasons, which, as Barnwell points out, is on par with the like of Brandon LaFell and Antonio Gates during that time period. 

[RELATED: Amid contract drama, Gould says family will drive decision]

The contract certainly is above market value, but the 49ers did what they had to do (and then some) to get their guy.

49ers' Robbie Gould says family will drive his football decisions

49ers' Robbie Gould says family will drive his football decisions

Kicker Robbie Gould and the 49ers remain in a holding pattern, and Gould said the only motivating factor at this stage of his NFL career is his family.

Gould, 36, spent most of the 2018 season away from his wife and three young boys while serving his second season as the 49ers’ kicker. He signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency in 2017.

Gould has deep roots in Chicago, where he spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career. On Monday, he hosted the Robbie Gould Celebrity Golf Invitational at Medinah Country Club to raise funds for Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“This city’s been incredible,” Gould told NBC Sports Chicago. “No matter where I’ve gone, no matter where I’ve lived, no matter where I’ve played, Chicago has always been home.”

The Bears released Gould just prior to the start of the regular season in 2016. The move came back to haunt them, as Gould made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts the past two seasons with the 49ers.

Gould expected to be a free agent at the end of the season, but the 49ers tagged him as their franchise player. Gould has requested a trade, but the 49ers have stated they will not trade him.

He has yet to sign the one-year, $4.971 million tender, and he remained away from the 49ers during the offseason program.

“It’s a complicated situation,” Gould said. “The way I’ve kind of approached it is, I want to spend time with my family. And I let my agent handle it, and if anything comes up that I have to make a decision or be in the know, he’ll call me and let me know. But right now there’s nothing to really know, and I’m just enjoying being home and being in Chicago.

“I’m at a point in my career where my family is what’s going to dictate the decisions that I make.”

The 49ers have stated they would like to sign Gould to an extension. The sides have until July 15 to work out a new multi-year deal. Gould’s scheduled salary does not begin paying him until Week 1 of the regular season -- in the amount of more than $290,000 per week.

The Bears have a need at kicker after releasing Cody Parkey following his potential game-winning kick in the final seconds was partially blocked in a first-round NFL playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Gould was in attendance at Soldier Field that day.

[RELATED: Watch Verett go full speed in change-of-direction drills]

“You want every kicking friend or every kicker in the National Football League to do well,” Gould said. ‘It’s a fraternity. You obviously want him to make it. As a kicker, you can feel for him, for sure.”

The Bears currently have two kickers under contract: Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro. Gould said he is not following the Bears’ situation. Instead, he said he is focusing spending time with his family and going through his daily workouts.