Although it appears that Mike Person’s injury today is not serious, news that he was hurt served as another reminder of the lack of depth along the 49ers’ offensive line. On top of Person’s absence, Weston Richburg (knee, quadriceps) and Lake Tomlinson (knee) have been recovering from offseason surgery. Furthermore, swing tackle Shon Coleman suffered a season ending injury in the first preseason game with a broken fibula and dislocated ankle.
As it stands, the projected starting five on the 49ers’ OL looks like this after injuries: (From left to right) Joe Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Ben Garland, Najee Toran, Mike McGlinchey.
The starting lineup is somewhat solid; however, the depth is the most concerning.
In my 53-man prediction, the backup OL included Sam Young, Ben Garland, Joshua Garnett, and Najee Toran (currently filling in for the possible Mike Person injury).
With obvious questions regarding the quality on the depth chart, I’m going to identify four possible trade targets the 49ers can go after to help bolster the group overall.
1. Brandon Scherff: The current Redskin is one of the better guards in the league and acquiring Scherff would provide a high calibre, plug-and-play lineman the 49ers could desperately use. Last season, Scherff played in only 8 games due to a torn pectoral. Yes, I know, injury history, the last thing we need. However, Scherff would be an upgrade that would dramatically alter the offense for the better, and 2018 was the first season in which he missed significant time.
According to PFF, Scherff graded out at an 84.0 in pass blocking amongst all guards, good for 9th best in the league. Although his run blocking grade in 2018 was poor (61.3, 30th in NFL), that was by far his lowest graded season as a run blocker (79.3 in 2017, 76.4 in 2016 and 80.6 in 2015). he brings toughness to an OL that could use more physicality.
The reason Scherff is listed here is due to reported disagreements with contract negotiations between Scherff and the Redskins. Aside from this, Scherff reportedly would request a trade if the two sides cannot come to an agreement. Scherff is in the final year of his rookie contract. In his 8 games last season, Scherff played every snap (506) at the RG position.
2. Wes Schweitzer: Drafted in 2016 in the 6th round, Schweitzer has familiarity with Kyle Shanahan’s system… although he did not play a snap his rookie year (practice makes perfect!). In 2018, he was a backup behind former 49ers guard Brandon Fusco. Later in the season, Schweitzer became a starter due to a season-ending injury to Andy Levitre. This offseason, the Falcons bolstered their OL by drafting guard Chris Lindstrom, as well as signing John Carpenter and Jamon Brown, who also both play guard.
With all of these signings, Schweitzer could very well see himself out the door when roster cut-downs begin. Between his 2 seasons as a starter, Schweitzer has experience playing both RG and LG. With depth being a need, Schweitzer would be an ideal target for an OL that needs more bodies. Last season according to PFF, Schweitzer graded out at 63.6 overall, with a 70.2 in the pass game, as well as 57.3 run blocking. Certainly not outstanding, but his schematic fit and likely availability make him an attractive option as a depth piece.
3. Ronald Leary: Hear me out on this one. I know he’s had multiple injuries in his career (torn achilles, back injury, knee, etc.) However, he would still be a solid upgrade to an OL that can arguably use any player it can get.
In 2017, Leary signed a four-year, $36 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. Although Denver could use offensive line help, I feel they need wide receivers more. Outside of Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, Denver does not have many outside receiving threats. With a wealth of options at WR, the 49ers could move one of their own players to Denver in exchange for Leary and possibly a late pick.
Depending on Shanahan’s preferences, players like Jordan Matthews, Marquise Goodwin, and Kendrick Bourne are all possible options that could be targets for Denver. With Pettis, Samuel, Hurd, all relative locks, there are still 3-4 WR spots open on the depth chart. Could one of these players be on the block for an OL? Of course, former 49ers quarterbacks’ coach Rich Scangarello is now the OC in Denver, so he knows the 49ers receivers well, whilst they should have a solid grasp of his scheme.
Last season, Leary graded at a 62.1 overall per PFF, with a 59.9 in pass blocking, and a 62.6 grade run blocking. In his last full season barring injuries (2016), Leary graded at an 80.0 overall. Leary still has potential to be a fantastic piece if healthy, as he can play both the LG and RG positions.
4. Andrew Wylie: With a trade already in the books (Dee Ford for a 2nd), the Chiefs and 49ers could make another deal. Andrew Wylie bounced around teams as a UDFA until he found a home in KC. Last season, Wylie played in 16 games, starting 10 of them due to an injury to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Although well regarded by Kansas City, Wylie would be a nice acquisition to an OL that could use depth and youth. According to PFF, Wylie graded at a 62.0 overall, with a 66.1 in the pass game and a 57.2 run blocking. Wylie wound up playing almost 700 snaps, all at the RG position. Teams don’t primarily like to deal young players, especially OL, however, Lynch and Co. could very well be desperate enough to make a quick addition to plug any needed holes on the OL, as the trade options are relatively thin.
With very few trade and FA options, John Lynch would likely have to overpay to acquire even an average OL at best. With how the preseason is starting already, Lynch might have to make a move sooner rather than later.