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Robert Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

5 things to know about new 49ers OL Matt Pryor

Mar 27, 2023 at 11:37 AM--

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch announced the signing of veteran offensive lineman Matt Pryor on Monday, a move that will give the team another needed veteran depth piece capable of helping at multiple spots across the offensive line.

Pryor (6-7, 332) comes to the 49ers with 60 games of NFL experience and 24 starts. He entered the league in 2018 as a sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, then was traded to the Indianapolis Colts before the 2021 season. A native of Long Beach, California, Pryor, 28, spent the past two seasons with the Colts before joining the 49ers.

Let's take a look at what 49ers fans should know about Pryor as he heads to the Bay Area.

High School and College

According to a 2018 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pryor didn't start playing organized football until his freshman year in high school at Long Beach (Calif.) San Pedro, then saw his recruitment pick up once he transferred to Lakewood (Calif.) High School. Pryor was a late qualifier, so he didn't get a scholarship offer until after signing day in 2013. That offer was from TCU, which was the only one he needed.

"It was TCU, and I liked the idea of moving away," Pryor said. "My family – we're real tight knit. I didn't really hang out with friends growing up. But I knew it was time."

Pryor redshirted as a freshman at TCU, then after playing in eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2014, he moved into the starting lineup for good as a sophomore. Pryor started 13 games at right guard a a junior, then won second-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior with eight starts at right guard and six at right tackle.

Scouts liked him, but with concerns

Pryor drew praise coming out of college as a very big (36-inch arms, 11.5-inch hands) lineman who could move well but had some issues at times with his weight. Pryor weighed 390 pounds at one point at TCU, which he worked to shed before entering the NFL.

According to NFL.com, one NFC regional scout said of Pryor, "Talented but he's got the reputation for being a little bit lazy. If you knew he would keep his weight down and take the preparation seriously, I think you would have a pretty good player. You just don't know if he has that kind of football character."

NFL.com scout Lance Zierlein wrote, "Pryor is great big, long-armed blocker who falls in the category of prospect rather than project. His size and length traits along with his ability to play guard or tackle will offer immediate appeal as a potential third-day selection. He's better suited as a drive blocker who is allowed to work inside a smaller radius, but he's not a bad athlete in general."

Three years with the Eagles

Pryor didn't see his first playing time until the 2019 season, during which he played in 12 games. His first NFL start came after the regular season in a playoff loss to the Seahawks. Pryor saw his playing time increase with the Eagles in 2020, appearing in 15 games with 10 starts during a shaky season for the Eagles' offensive line. He started games at right tackle and at guard.

But not all was right for Pryor during the 2020 season, as he explained after his trade to the Colts.

"I had a herniated disc, and it was hitting the nerves running to my legs," Pryor said in 2021, per the Indianapolis Star. "Some days, my legs felt like they were fine. Some days, it would come game day, and it felt like I'd just squatted 1,000 pounds. It was a struggle just walking around."

Pryor added, "Not a lot of people know. It should have kept me out the whole season, but I kind of kept that to myself, because everybody was dealing with injuries. The o-line was losing people left and right."

The Eagles shipped Pryor to the Colts before the start of the 2021 season along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round pick.

Ups and downs with the Colts

Pryor played in 17 games during his first season with the Colts, starting five. He performed well enough in 2021 to get a one-year, $5.5 million deal for the 2022 season.

The Colts headed into the 2022 season with the intention of trying Pryor at left tackle despite him not having much experience there throughout his career. Pryor slimmed down for the role by doing some boxing, then he won the left tackle job during the preseason and began the regular season as the starter.

Pryor was unsuccessful at left tackle, starting four games there before a start at right tackle in Week 5. Pryor then was switched to right guard, where he started for four games, then per Colts.com he played in just 34 snaps over the remainder of the season. Pryor also developed an illness in November of 2022 that caused him to go to the hospital.

Pryor finished the 2022 season with a 44.9 rating at Pro Football Focus.

The presence of Trent Williams means Pryor won't be in the running for left tackle in San Francisco (barring injury). Pryor could get a look as a swing tackle or as a competitor at right tackle while also providing depth at right guard.

A former bouncer

Pryor had an interesting job while at TCU, one that certainly fit a person of his imposing size. Pryor took a job as a bouncer at a tavern near the TCU campus as a sophomore and wound up working there for the remainder of his college career.

"Because I was the biggest guy there, (the manager) always put me in VIP," Pryor told NBC Sports Philadelphia in 2018. 'It was the most stressful area. Because you have to watch the dance floor, make sure they don't push into the VIP section, you have to let VIP people in and out and then I gotta keep the stairway clear."

Pryor said he had to remove around 20 people from the tavern over the course of three years. He discovered that just about anyone is capable of getting testy with a future NFL offensive lineman if they have alcohol in their system.

"People get real confident when they get drinks," Pryor told NBC Sports Philadelphia. "And then they realize I'm bigger than them. Even girls. Girls would give you attitude. One girl, it was her birthday. I'm like, 'I don't want to kick you out on your birthday, but come on now, you're doing too much.'"


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