Alex Boone departed the San Francisco 49ers during free agency to join the Minnesota Vikings. Zane Beadles was acquired to replace him. Beadles, who has quickly formed a friendship with the man lining up next to him, Joe Staley, has been playing on the left side of the offensive line during practices. Rookie guard Joshua Garnett has practiced exclusively on the right side. For Garnett, that changed on Tuesday.
When Garnett arrived Tuesday morning, he was told by offensive line coach Pat Flaherty that he would be lining up for the first time on the left side. "I can go wherever the coaches need me to go and be that versatile guy," said Garnett via CSN Bay Area. "I didn't ask for an explanation. Didn't need one. Wherever they put me, I'm going to go there with a smile on my face."
Garnett worked at left guard with the second-team unit during practice on Tuesday. "Garnett played at that spot last year at Stanford," reports Matt Barrows. "With Garnett on the left side, Ian Silberman played right guard (next to tackle Anthony Davis) with the second-team unit."
Beadles continued to practice at left guard with the first-team unit, but Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area wonders if Garnett's move is an indication that the lineup could change. "Garnett's move could mean that Beadles' position is now in question with [Andrew Tiller] strengthening his hold on a starting spot," said Maiocco.
Based on 2015 statistics, Tiller is the team's second best offensive lineman behind only Staley and the NFL's 18th ranked guard, per Pro Football Focus. By comparison, Beadles was the 64th ranked guard in the league. The team may be trying to find a way to get him more involved and continue to give Garnett a good chance to make the starting lineup.
"Or it could mean that the 49ers want to give Garnett work on both sides to keep their options open for where he is the best fit for the team's offensive live," continued Maiocco.
How has Beadles been doing in practice? Chris Biderman of Niners Wire believes that he may be a weak link along the 49ers' offensive line. "However, if there's been a weak point on the starting offensive line, it's been left guard Zane Beadles, who's regularly been victimized by Armstead and Buckner during the first week of camp," says Biderman.
"(Garnett) beat fellow first-round pick DeForest Buckner in a one-on-one pass-rush drill," reports Grant Cohn of the Press Democrat. "Buckner tried to move Garnett with a swim move. Garnett didn't budge."
The 49ers may simply be trying to evaluate Garnett's abilities at multiple positions. However, if Beadles shows that he may be a liability, the team's starting lineup along the offensive line may shift.
Garnett, the 28th overall pick in this year's draft, was the 2015 John Outland Trophy Winner, an award given to the most outstanding interior lineman of the year. He was considered to be the best run blocker in this year's draft.
The 6-foot-4, 305 pound Beadles was drafted by the Denver Broncos out of Utah in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2012. In 2014, Beadles signed a 5-year, $30 million contract with $13 million guaranteed with the intent to be a veteran presence on a rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line.
The 29-year old Beadles has started all 16 games in each of his four seasons with the Broncos and two seasons with the Jaguars.