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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Who are realistic draft candidates for the 49ers at right tackle?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Apr 4, 2023 at 12:51 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are in a unique position with the 2023 NFL Draft, as they are poised to have their first selection only at the backend of the third round after trading away their first and second-round picks in the Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey trades, respectively.

Given their draft position, it's tough to identify who will be available and exactly what the 49ers may do in regard to moving up and down the board at their spots.

Last week, in an interview with 49ers Webzone's Rohan Chakravarthi, The Draft Network's Justin Melo, who has done over 700 draft pick interviews over his career, helped identify realistic draft candidates for the 49ers at each of their positions of need.

Melo believes, given the loss of longtime starter Mike McGlinchey in free agency, that a trade-up could be in the works for a potential right tackle, while cornerback could be of value to the team as well.

"They've got so many Day 3 picks right well after the third round that I would imagine John Lynch, Adam Peters, they do try to move up at some point. I look at that right tackle position," Melo said. "And I look at cornerback as well. I think corner can use some better depth. I think interior O-line could use some better depth… So I look at those positions, corner and right tackle especially, stick out to me. Then I look at the trenches that's the way they've built this team, right, I think from the inside out."

The 49ers currently have Colton McKivitz at right tackle, who appears to be the leader in the clubhouse, but general manager John Lynch openly said that it would be a competition for the starting job.

At cornerback, after the signing of Isaiah Oliver, it appears the 49ers have four locks at the position: the newly-signed Oliver, Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, and Samuel Womack. Ambry Thomas's spot is no longer guaranteed after back-to-back uninspiring training camps, meaning the 49ers could look for one or two more depth pieces to fill out their rotation.

Along the interior of the offensive line, the 49ers lost Daniel Brunskill in free agency, who was their primary backup, which could open up a spot in the later rounds for a selection to compete with unproven players like Nick Zakelj and Jason Poe.

Right Tackle

The right tackle position is always a tough evaluation in the NFL Draft, given the scarcity at the position, which means that teams tend to overdraft players to secure an option for the future.

With a top-heavy tackle class, the 49ers may be out of the range for the top six or seven tackles on the board, but Melo could see a possible trade up occur, potentially placing the team in the late-second round, where they could select Syracuse product Matthew Bergeron.

"On the topic of right tackle, you talked about adding some competition there and we alluded to a potential trade up. I look at a guy, one that really strikes me is Matthew Bergeron from the University of Syracuse," Melo said. "I think he probably gets picked in that 50 to 65 range, so it might be a little high for them to come up. But with all those third-rounders, I think anything is possible. Maybe they include a 2024 day two pick, help sweeten in the pot, get up there to that again, that 60-ish range."

The scheme fit with Bergeron is ideal for Kyle Shanahan's zone-run offense, and he could serve as a potential plug-and-play right tackle for the 49ers, who now are in search for their option of the future with Mike McGlinchey signing with the Denver Broncos.

"He's a terrific athlete that Matthew Bergeron is, so I could really see him being their type. You talk about that zone-based running scheme that Kyle Shanahan is running and has sort of grandfathered around the league. He's a great fit for that scheme, Matthew Bergeron is, and I think he's a natural right tackle," Melo said. "I know there's been some talk of kicking him inside to guard [due to] the arm length. Is it long enough to play tackle? But it's not maybe as long as you'd like it to be, but it is long enough. Right tackle, right guard, wherever he ends up, I do think he's potentially plug-and-play at right tackle if you give him an opportunity to play there. He's certainly intriguing. I think that he does warrant a round two selection if you pick him there, given the scarcity at the position and the drop-off, really."

However, if the 49ers aren't able to pick up Bergeron, BYU's Blake Freeland could be a realistic option for the 49ers at right tackle, with his athleticism working well for the team's offense.

"[Another right tackle] that strikes me as their type, certainly, is BYU offensive tackle Blake Freeland. I think he's being criminally underrated throughout this process. I think he's a terrific, terrific athlete. That's obvious if you look at the relative athletic score, what he was able to do with the combine, and things of that nature. He's an easy mover," Melo said.

Melo believes that Freeland would serve as the perfect scheme fit for the 49ers offense, coming in to play right tackle before potentially moving to the left side after Trent Williams's retirement.

"He's tailor-made for that scheme. I'll be shocked if it's not one of those zone-based teams that draft Blake Freeland. And San Francisco is one of five or six that really run that scheme as heavy as they do," Melo said. "I like Blake better at left tackle, so there may be a positional switch. If [the 49ers] did want to move him to right tackle, that's something they would have to weigh. But I'm a huge fan of Blake Freeland's and I imagine the San Francisco 49ers are as well. Played his ball there on the West Coast right at BYU, so they've got an opportunity to get a relatively front-row seat to him. A huge fan of his."

While the 49ers are currently stationed at No. 93, Melo believes the current draft class serves them well to potentially obtaining their choice of the future, especially with a trade up.

"I think it's a pretty good draft from an offensive tackle perspective as well. So I think the 49ers are in a really good place here."

The 49ers currently have three third-round picks in this year's draft, all compensatory selections, while having the opportunity to gain more via the compensatory formula for the loss of Mike McGlinchey, as well as the hirings of DeMeco Ryans and Ran Carthon.

With the capital, a trade up is possible, but uncertain, as the draft looms a month away.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

1 Comment

  • BigAl
    Obviously more and more teams are not content with just one elite edge rusher, the formula has become you need 2. I think Mcglinchey especially proved that elite run blocking is great and all but that RTs really need to be solid in pass pro as well. Obviously Mcglinchey was never worth his draft slot because of his performance in the passing game. So my problem becomes this...Arizona and Seattle are picking in the top 5 and are primed to add some serious star potential along their DLs. Will Anderson is like a Bosa. To me its a complete waste of a pick to draft some RT whos great in zone but gets out-muscled at every turn. So just like how the Banks pick kind of broke the mold, I do think how a RT projects in pass pro down the road should be and will be the main factor in who they pick and if thats what they target first. Personally I like McCivitz and believe he deserves a shot. Id personally rather them go TE first as I think 2 TE sets could benefit this offense more than anything else
    Apr 4, 2023 at 1:27 PM


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