49ers 2018 Positional Breakdown: Offensive Line

Over the offseason, we break down each of the San Francisco 49ers’ position groups for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. In this edition, we break down all 16 members of the Niners’ offensive line.

This is the fifth edition of our 49ers 2018 offseason positional breakdowns. Check out the first four articles here:

Running Back
Wide Receiver
Tight End

Over the offseason, the San Francisco 49ers made a number of changes to their offensive line. A few of the roster moves were surprising — both to those who follow the team, and to the players involved. The left side of the 49ers’ offensive line will likely remain in tact for 2018, but the other three starting linemen from last season — center Daniel Kilgore, right tackle Brandon Fusco and right tackle Trent Brown — now play for different teams.

Let’s break down each of the San Francisco 49ers’ 16 offensive linemen, beginning with four players who appear to have starting jobs to begin the 2018 season:

LT Joe Staley

After taking a step back in 2016, Joe Staley had an excellent 2017 season, finishing the season as Pro Football Focus’ second-ranked tackle. In April, the 49ers gave Staley a $6.5 million raise over the final two seasons of his contract, solidifying him as the team’s starting left tackle through 2019. Staley will turn 36 before the 2020 season begins, meaning his time in San Francisco — and the NFL — may be nearing its end.

RT Mike McGlinchey

49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan hope they found Staley’s eventual replacement in rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey, the Niners No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. After drafting McGlinchey, the 49ers traded Trent Brown to the New England Patriots, opening up the team’s starting right tackle job for their new draftee. After he plays his first two NFL seasons on the right side of the 49ers’ offensive line, McGlinchey — who played both positions in college — will likely transition to left tackle.

C Weston Richburg

In February, the 49ers signed starting center Daniel Kilgore to a three-year extension; a month later, the team signed free-agent center Weston Richburg to an expensive five-year deal, and shipped a surprised Kilgore off to the Miami Dolphins. Richburg’s $47.5 million contract contains $16.5 million in guaranteed money in 2018, and is also guaranteed for injury over the following two seasons.

LG Laken Tomlinson

The 49ers decided against exercising Laken Tomlinson‘s fifth-year option, initially sparking questions about the starting left guard’s future with the team. Then, in June, the Niners signed Tomlinson to a three-year extension through the 2021 season. Tomlinson will begin the year as the 49ers’ starting left guard, but although he’s signed for the next four seasons, that doesn’t mean his long-term future with the team is set in stone. Tomlinson will cost the team $2.9 million 2018 and $3.8 million in 2019, with the 49ers likely reassessing his value before his 2020 salary jumps to over $5 million.

G Jonathan Cooper

Free-agent addition Jonathan Cooper will get the first shot at the 49ers’ 2018 starting right guard spot. Cooper started 13 games for the Dallas Cowboys last season before signing a one-year deal with the Niners that includes $4 million in guaranteed money. Cooper is still rehabbing from offseason knee surgery, but hopes to be ready for action before training camp begins.

G Joshua Garnett

Under the previous administration, the 49ers traded up to select guard Joshua Garnett with the No. 28 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Now, the former Stanford standout’s future with the team is in question; Garnett could begin the season starting at right guard, sitting on the bench or searching for a job on a different team. Garnett missed all of 2017, but spent the year transforming his body in order to become a better fit in Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.

OL Mike Person

After a six-year hiatus, offensive lineman Mike Person — the former 49ers seventh-rounder — is back with the team after signing a one-year contract. Person will compete for the starting right guard job, or for a potential backup spot on the roster. Person has experience at guard, but also started at center for four games for the Indianapolis Colts last season, and 14 games for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 under Shanahan.

OL Erik Magnuson

While offensive lineman Erik Magnuson is in the running for starting right guard, it’s more likely the versatile lineman will land on the 49ers’ roster in a backup role. Magnuson started two games at tackle for San Francisco last season, after playing both tackle and guard in college. Magnuson also worked to learn the center position last season; with another offseason of practice, he could compete for the 49ers’ backup center roster spot as well.

T Garry Gilliam

Tackle Garry Gilliam won’t compete for a starting guard role, but he is likely to make the final roster as the 49ers’ swing tackle. After missing half of the 49ers’ 2017 season due to a knee injury, Gilliam signed a two-year contract with the team — including over $2 million in guaranteed money — before free agency began. Prior to arriving in San Francisco, Gilliam was the Seattle Seahawks’ starting right tackle for two seasons.

The San Francisco 49ers will start the season with either eight or nine offensive linemen, after beginning 2017 with nine linemen on their initial 53-man roster. With the previous nine players competing for eight or nine spots, each of the remaining seven players have an uphill battle for a final spot on the 49ers’ roster — but like undrafted-free-agent Magnuson demonstrated last year, each of these players will have their opportunity to make the team:

T Darrell Williams Jr.

Darrell Williams spent half of 2017 on the 49ers’ practice squad before being promoted to the team’s 53-man roster, but saw limited playing time during the remainder of the season. The 2017 undrafted free agent will look to take Gilliam’s job as the team’s swing tackle.

T Pace Murphy

Pace Murphy played two games with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and spent time on the 49ers’ practice squad last season. Murphy will also compete for Gilliam’s swing tackle roster spot.

T Andrew Lauderdale

An undrafted free agent in 2017, Andrew Lauderdale was a member of the 49ers’ practice squad last year after he spent two short weeks on the New Orleans Saints’ roster after the 2017 NFL Draft.

OL Jamar McGloster

The first of the 49ers’ 2018 undrafted-free-agent linemen, Jamar McGolster was a two-year starter at right tackle at Syracuse who could get preseason playing time at his college position and at guard.

G Najee Toran

Najee Toran was a two-year starter at guard for UCLA, and also played on the defensive side of the ball. Toran is an interesting developmental project who could land on the 49ers’ practice squad.

C Coleman Shelton

Coleman Shelton — a standout center at the University of Washington — will compete for the 49ers’ backup center role, and could get preseason reps at guard as well.

C Alan Knott

Alan Knott started 42 games at center for the University of South Carolina. Although he was a consistent college player, Knott is a longshot candidate for a roster spot as the 49ers’ backup center.

About the Author: Chris Wilson

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