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Should the 49ers be concerned about their offensive tackles?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 8, 2023 at 6:15 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers faced a significant decision this offseason when letting right tackle Mike McGlinchey hit the open market, where he eventually signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Denver Broncos, leaving the team with Colton McKivitz as their projected starter after surprisingly not addressing the position in the 2023 NFL Draft.

McKivitz has been the unquestioned starter at right tackle, joining left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Aaron Banks, center Jake Brendel, and right guard Spencer Burford as the starting offensive line for the 49ers in 2023.

The 2020 fifth-round pick is a significant question mark; he's started only five games in his career, with most coming in spot duty because of an injury.

However, the 49ers' starting right tackle may not even be the biggest question at the position. Instead, the focus revolves around the backup offensive tackles, who each have questions about themselves, raising serious concerns should one of them be forced to step into a game.

That leads to the question: should the 49ers be concerned about their offensive tackles?

Offensive line coach Chris Foerster took the podium early last week to share his opinions on the 49ers' offensive line situation, taking reporters through what his plan is for backups Jaylon Moore, Leroy Watson, and Matt Pryor.

Foerster has begun with Pryor on the right side, where he played a majority of his starts last season, while rotating Moore and Watson around, looking to bridge the versatility gap with previous swing tackles.

"Well, what I'm doing with Matt is, Matt has had most success on the right side. I want him to be able to put his best foot forward in this camp. We have [OL] Leroy [Watson IV] and Jaylon that we've been working on at both sides. Eventually Matt's going to have to do both and that will come as I see how this thing plays out with him going forward. And then we may have to start rotating him. It's probably going to come after the Raiders practice sessions. So, all three of them should have to play both sides."

As for Watson himself, Foerster praised him for his development over the past few seasons, while cautioning that there's still away to go before competing for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"It's been great to watch him. The question was asked earlier about the development of these guys and all the different positions and stuff, and Leroy's one of those guys, he's made great strides. Not to be confused with ready, same thing with Nick [Zakelj]. Great strides, but not quite there yet. [Jason] Poe, you know, it's been great for them, but it's only a few practices in, it's not a lot of game reps. But it's been great that he's been able to get all these exposures and now it's just a matter of whether we can build on it and it doesn't fall back because you start making progress and sometimes it's two steps forward, one step back. We've got to keep them progressing. It's been cool to see."

Through training camp, this was arguably the weakest position on the roster, as the swing tackle combination of Moore and Pyror has been shaky when faced against San Francisco's second-team defense.

The one player, however, that has shown some flashes is Leroy Watson, although he's more of a developmental case at swing tackle. But, with the poor play of Moore and Pryor so far, Watson may be the best option possible come cutdown day.
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.


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