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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

PFF ranks 49ers offensive line among the lowest in the NFL

Jun 27, 2017 at 10:31 AM--

On Monday, NFL Media analyst and former NFL linebacker Willie McGinest ranked the San Francisco 49ers linebacking group among the best in the league. On Tuesday, Pro Football Focus ranked every offensive line group in the league – according to its metrics – and the 49ers didn't fare as well.

As they do every year, Pro Football Focus will be ranking each position group as the season approaches. The ranking is based on multiple years for each player where snap counts and performance are factored in. Rookies or players with very little playing experience are still factored in but at a "slightly below-average number."

Out of 32 offensive line groups in the NFL, the 49ers ranked near the bottom at number 27. Here is what Pro Football Focus had to say about the group:

"Left tackle Joe Staley is the only saving grace for the 49ers, but at 32 years old, even he isn't the All Pro force he once was. If there is any hope for this line, it comes in the form of guard Josh Garnett. The first-round pick in 2016 was a nightmare in pass protection as a rookie, finishing dead last in pass-blocking efficiency."

The top-ranked offensive line belonged to the Philadelphia Eagles and the bottom-ranked one unsurprisingly belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.

The mention of Joshua Garnett is interesting because he is a draft pick from the previous regime and isn't a lock to start. Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area recently discussed Garnett on the Taylor Price Talk podcast.

"If Joshua Garnett is on the field, it's because he earned it," Maiocco said. "(It's because) he's one of the five best offensive linemen. Last year, Andrew Tiller might have been their third-best offensive lineman last year. And because they traded up to get Joshua Garnett, Andrew Tiller was out of a job. He did nothing to lose that job. Joshua Garnett did nothing, quite frankly, to win that job, but the decision was made and everybody goes into it with their eyes wide open.

"Tiller knew, the moment they drafted Joshua Garnett, that he was living on borrowed time. And, probably, Garnett knew the moment he was drafted, 'I'm going to be a starter real soon in my 49ers career.'

"Now that there's a new coaching staff and John Lynch doesn't care, Kyle Shanahan doesn't care, that [Garnett] was a first-round draft pick. It was a first-round draft pick for a different general manager, a different head coach, a different system. So, none of that matters."

Andrew Tiller, who began the 2016 season as the 49ers' starting right guard and became a free agent in March, eventually signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. He appeared in 15 games for the 49ers last season.

Maiocco went on to say that he does not necessarily believe that Garnett is one of the five best offensive linemen on the team and then the question becomes whether the team even keeps Garnett on the roster.

The 49ers did not address the offensive line in the draft. However, they have acquired a number of free agent offensive linemen this offseason, including Garry Gilliam from the Seattle Seahawks, Brandon Fusco of the Minnesota Vikings, and Tim Barnes of the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers also traded for Baltimore Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah in March.

Staley and Zuttah are the offensive linemen on the 49ers roster with the highest 2016 Pro Football Focus grades.


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