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Insider explains why 49ers failed to make more substantial O-line moves

May 6, 2024 at 10:32 AM

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ESPN reporter Jeremy Fowler identified the selection of wide receiver Ricky Pearsall as the most questionable move of the 2024 NFL Draft, instead expecting the San Francisco 49ers to bolster their offensive line with their first-round pick.

This week, Matt Barrows of The Athletic fielded fan questions and was asked why more wasn't done to fortify the offensive line. Yes, the 49ers drafted two offensive linemen, but not until the third and sixth rounds.

Barrows highlights two narratives to explain the failure to address the tackle position. After all, Trent Williams will be 36 years old at the start of the 2024 NFL season and no NFL offensive lineman allowed more pressures last season than Colton McKivitz's 59 (including the playoffs).

The first narrative revolves around general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan repeatedly expressing satisfaction with their current lineup of Williams, McKivitz, and Jaylon Moore.

"And we like our tackles as they stand right now," Lynch stated during his post-draft press conference. "We like our depth with Jaylon Moore being a really talented guy who can play the swing role. ... But we're excited about our O-line group. I know a lot of people talk about that, but we feel pretty good about our group."

The second narrative considers the learning curve from the college game to the professional level. Barrows notes that college tackles are "ill-prepared for the NFL game," especially within the 49ers' zone-blocking scheme. Still, he acknowledges that the team cannot overlook the position indefinitely.

"Both are legitimate arguments," Barrows remarked. "But they can't keep looking down their nose at college tackles like they've done the last two seasons. It's not sustainable. If they'd taken one last year — BYU's Blake Freeland, for example — the rough assimilation period the 49ers seem to dread largely would have taken place last season and he might be in a position to compete for a role now."

Barrows underscores that the tackle position was a pressing need this year and will become even more critical in 2025 due to Williams' age, Moore becoming a free agent, and McKivitz set to hit free agency in 2026. He speculates that the 49ers might have been eyeing a tackle in the second round of the draft.

Barrows wrote, "Were they about to take Washington tackle Roger Rosengarten at pick No. 63 only to see the Baltimore Ravens swipe him at pick No. 62? Many league observers thought that was the case."

After Rosengarten went off the board, the 49ers traded down a spot and chose former Florida State cornerback Renardo Green with the No. 64 overall pick

"Is there a Plan B? I don't know," Barrows added. "There's been a lot of talk of the Denver Broncos trading Garett Bolles, and the 49ers always are active around the trade deadline. But Bolles is 32 and entering the final year of his contract."
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