NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment we examine why the 49ers have a need at offensive tackle.

The 49ers had Trent Brown under contract for one more season, but they selected his replacement with their first pick in the 2018 draft and traded him to New England.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan opted for right tackle Mike McGlinchey with the No. 9 overall pick while passing over more popular choices, such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tremaine Edmunds, Derwin James and Marcus Davenport.

So if the 49ers feel they have a need at left tackle this offseason, it would stand to reason they would address that high-impact position over some of the team’s other needs.

Yes, the 49ers are expected to add a wide receiver. But in a draft class that is teeming with a number of quality prospects, would the 49ers get better draft value if they address another position early in the draft in order to take advantage of the depth at receiver?

However, it is unclear at this stage whether the 49ers have an immediate need at left tackle or if they should merely be preparing for that inevitable time in the future.

Lynch expressed confidence in February that All-Decade offensive tackle Joe Staley will return for a 14th NFL season. But there has not been definitive word from Staley on his overall health and mindset since the 49ers’ crushing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

 

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Last week, McGlinchey was asked about Staley’s status on an appearance with Greg Papa and John Lynch on their mid-day show on KNBR.

"Either way, I think he's deserved both,” McGlinchey said. “He's deserved a right to come back to this team and play football, but he's also earned the right to hang it up if he wants to. I don't know what his decision-making is there, and I'm certainly not going to speak to that.

"Obviously, as a teammate, and as a member of the 49ers, I know Joe is as vital to our success as anybody."

Staley, who turns 36 in August, is a six-time Pro Bowl left tackle who will be difficult to replace. The 49ers must have a plan for filling such an important job as protecting the blindside of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

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This is a good year for a team picking in the top half of the first round to be looking for an offensive tackle. There are four tackles -- in virtually any order -- that most pundits agree are high-level prospects.

Those consensus top players, in alphabetical order, are Mekhi Becton (Louisville), Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Jedrick Wills (Alabama) and Tristan Wirfs (Iowa).

After the 49ers released veteran right guard Mike Person this offseason, it appears as if Daniel Brunskill and veteran addition Tom Compton will compete for the starting job. If the 49ers need a left tackle, Brunskill, Justin Skule and Shon Coleman are the options on the team’s offseason roster.