Joe Staley cannot play forever.
San Francisco general manager John Lynch is confident that the Pro Bowl left tackle will return. But just in case, the 49ers should have a contingency plan if Staley doesn't.
Scouts and draft pundits alike have boasted that 2020's class of tackles entering the NFL draft is just as good, if not better than, the deep group of wide receivers. The O-linemen just haven’t gotten as much press as their skill-position counterparts.
The top-four tackles are a step above the rest. Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Mekhi Becton (Louisville), Jedrick Wills (Alabama) and Andrew Thomas (Georgia) are all likely to be selected very early in the first round.
If the 49ers are unable to pick one of those four at No. 13 overall, there are other options on Day 2 and 3 that San Francisco could target and still be confident in bolstering the offensive line.
Here are the hidden gems that the 49ers could target after the first round.
Matthew Peart, Connecticut
Matthew Peart (6-foot-7, 318 pounds) has prototypical size and elite speed (5.06-second 40-yard dash). He might not be as refined as the top tackles in his class, but Peart has lots of athleticism and potential.
Peart's durable, too. He started all 48 games in four seasons at UConn, receiving First-Team AAC honors.
The tackle allowed just seven total pressures during his final season as a Husky, according to Pro Football Focus. Peart also played guard, and his versatility would help the 49ers.
Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
Ezra Cleveland (6’6, 311) wasn’t a tackle on everyone’s radar until his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. He led all offensive linemen in the 3-cone drill (7.26 seconds) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.46 seconds), showing off his agility and explosiveness.
Cleveland has been durable, starting in 40 of 42 games at Boise State. He also gained experience in an outside zone-blocking scheme, similar to what 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan utilizes.
Receiving First-Team All-Mountain West honors for two seasons in a row, Cleveland played a big role in Boise State extending its streak of 1,000-yard rushers to 12 seasons in 2019.
Keith Ismael, San Diego State
Bay Area native Keith Ismael (6’3, 309) played guard and center at San Diego State, and the 49ers could target him on Day 3 of the draft.
The two-time First-Team All-Mountain West honoree might not start right away in the NFL, but Ismael can be a solid backup because of his versatility.
Ismael is mobile and has high football IQ, but he needs to build strength in order to consistently block NFL-caliber nose tackles. He also needs to develop his ability to sustain blocks, but he has plenty of potential to improve.
The O-lineman majored in international security and conflict resolution at San Diego State, which currently could be very useful both on and off the field.