While there are questions looming on the interior of the offensive line, the future of the tackle position looks relatively bright.

Upside: The starting bookends look to be a mainstay with veteran Joe Staley at left tackle and second-year Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. Staley continues to play at a high level while McGlinchey could be groomed to be his eventual replacement. Staley took McGlinchey under his wing last season which has paid dividends towards McGlinchey's development and overall continuity at offensive line.

General Manager John Lynch surprised everyone last year when the team nabbed McGlinchey with the top pick and subsequently traded Trent Brown to the New England Patriots. The initial take was McGlinchey's athleticism was a better fit in Shanahan's zone-run blocking scheme--which now seems to be the case.


Downside: While Staley has remained relatively healthy throughout his career, he's now 35 years old entering this season; depth at the tackle position could fasten quickly should he miss extended time. It would put quite a bit of pressure on McGlinchey to step up.

The 49ers traded a seventh-round pick for the Cleveland Browns' Shon Coleman last offseason and drafted Justin Skule in the sixth round this year to provide some depth. Both players fit Head Coach Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme and will be competing for swing tackle duties.

Projected to Start:


Left Tackle: Joe Staley

As noted by Pro Football Focus, Staley has been the model of consistency for a franchise that has endured seven coaching changes in his career. Entering his 13th season, Staley's ascension started in 2012 with Jim Harbaugh, during which time Staley has a maintained a 94.2 overall Pro Football Focus grade with a 93 run-block grade and 89.5 pass-block grade, respectively.


The 49ers recently gave him a two-year extension through 2021 which shows a vote of confidence as to how effective Staley will be in his later years.

Right Tackle: Mike McGlinchey

McGlinchey was viewed as a high-floor prospect out of Notre Dame and his rookie season justified that with his consistent play. At first, the selection surprised many 49ers fans but now looks like a formidable building block in the Shanahan era.


While he struggled at times in pass blocking—he allowed 39 pressures—McGlinchey was a mainstay in the run game with a 78.2 run-blocking grade. There might be question marks if McGlinchey is athletic enough to play left tackle in the future but as of right now, he helps solidify a starting bookend spot at offensive tackle.

Projected Swing Tackle/Reserve


Typically, teams have one go-to tackle in the reserve role as the swing tackle; the swing tackle typically comes in to contribute at either left or right tackle during games.

Shon Coleman

Coleman was a 2016 third-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, with whom he actually started all 16 games at right tackle during his second year. The Browns would subsequently remake their roster and traded him to the 49ers for a late-round pick heading into 2018.

Coleman remains a bit of mystery at the moment because up to this point, he has contributed nothing as a 49er. Gary Gilliam beat him out last season for the swing tackle spot if that's any indication. However, Gilliam is no longer on the roster, which put Coleman in a favorable position given his starting experience in Cleveland.

Justin Skule

A sixth-round pick from this year's draft class, Skule was a three-year starter from Vanderbilt with ideal traits to fit in the zone-blocking scheme. His ceiling isn't particularly high in terms of physical traits but he still got the job done against some talented pass rushers in the SEC.

Training Camp Competition


Daniel Brunskill

The 49ers nabbed him from the AAF last season as a developmental prospect. Brunskill was actually a tight end in college before converting to offensive tackle as an undrafted free agent for the Atlanta Falcons. The athleticism is certainly there so I can see why he would be a practice squad candidate.

Christian DiLauro

Another former Brown, DiLauro was cut from the team's practice squad before getting picked up by the 49ers during the season. DiLauro's draft profile suggests he's got the lateral quickness to be a fit in the 49ers' scheme but it remains to be seen if he can compete against powerful edge rushers.

Prediction


Erik Magnuson was recently waived going into training camp which gives optimism for having two reserve tackles on the active roster. However, considering the 49ers' interior line situation, I think they keep just one. Coleman's experience and early-round draft pedigree give him the upper hand over the rookie Skule, who would be the most formidable competition at the swing tackle spot.

The 49ers head into the season with a strong foundation in Staley and McGlinchey at the starting tackle spots with Coleman as the swing tackle; they'll likely stash Skule and either DiLaurio or Brunskill on the practice squad for further development.

Next: Defensive Line