Now that San Francisco seems to have their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo, they definitely need the big guys up front to protect the young signal-caller for years to come. Unfortunately for the 49ers. it appears they need just about an entire offensive-line. The starting guard and center (Daniel Kilgore & Brandon Fusco) will be on the free agent market after this season. Longest-tenured 49er Joe Staley, as sad as it is to say, is an aging tackle who has battled to stay on the field the last two years. Trent Brown is continuously showing All-Pro potential, he just needs the four other guys to support him. I believe it’s time for the 49ers to move on from some of guys, and work through both free agency and the draft to get the best offensive lineman available. So in honor of five hogs on the offensive line, here are the top-five offensive-line targets I think the 49ers should work on acquiring whether in the draft or during free agency.
Weston Richburg (New York Giants) | C |
Every great offensive-line starts with the man in the middle. The man who can not only snap the ball back to your quarterback, but is able to read the defense as well. At 6’4 300lbs, Richburg, whose contract just happens to expire next year with the Giants, continues to prove to be one of the most underrated centers in the league. Despite the Giants continuous troubles at tackle in 2016, Richburg was tied for 5th in pass-blocking efficiency — standing alongside Oakland’s’ Kelechie Osemele and Saints’ Max Unger, according to PFF. Although he was ranked 5th among interior lineman, Richburg ranked 1st among centers in the NFL. He’s a great center who is relatively young that the 49ers can get at a possibly cheap price, definitely worth giving a shot in my opinion.
Andrew Norwell (Carolina Panthers) | LG |
“You put the ball in your running backs hand, and let the big boys up front just mash people.” This is something Jon Gruden commonly says regarding offensive-line play. Mashing people is what offensive-guard, Andrew Norwell’s gets paid to do. He’s nasty, and loves the physicality of the game. Norwell ranks among some of the top guards in the league. At 6’6, 325lbs, he was the Panther’s highest-rated lineman in 2016 by PFF, and in 2017, he is showing no signs of slowing down. Norwell may come at a high asking price, but I believe this is a price Lynch and Shanahan should be willing to pay to help protect their quarterback of the future.
Isaiah Wynn (Georgia) | OT/OG/C |
At 6’2, 302lbs, the extremely versatile Wynn has impressed scouts this season with his excellent run-blocking for the Bulldogs. Wynn blocks with aggression (much like Norwell) and has a passion that is extremely hard to find in college blockers. In pass-protection Wynn has shown great potential as well. Due to being shorter and not having as much length, some scouts think that Wynn should move to guard or center in the NFL. He did start at left guard in 2016, but scouts think he is athletic enough to play center as well. Wynn is projected too be a 3rd/4th-round pick — where the 49ers have multiple picks. An offensive-lineman with this versatility seems like a perfect fit for both Lynch and Shannhan.
Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame) | OT |
Every right-handed QB needs a reliable left-tackle. Well, at 6’7 310 pounds the Notre Dame tackle has all the intangibles to be a prolific offensive-tackle in the NFL. In the 2017 draft, McGlinchey could have been the closest thing to what we know as a franchise left-tackle, but he decided to return the Fighting Irish for his senior year. McGlinchey was projected to have been one of the best tackle prospects to come out in years. The tackle was able to gain another year of college experience, and still ranks as on of the top tackles in the nation. He is projected a 1st-rounder, so if the 49ers look to go to the trenches in the first-round, do not be surprised to hear McGlinchey’s name called on Draft Day.
Grant Newsome (Michigan) | OT |
The 6’7, 318lbs Newsome experienced one of the most gruesome leg injuries in all of college sports. Newsome was Michigan’s starting left-tackle early in 2016, and off to a good start to the season too. Not before long, he was out for the year with a leg injury against Wisconsin. The injury was so serious that Newsome was said to be minutes from losing his right leg! Newsome is doubtful to return to play in 2017, but is targeting a return to the field in 2018. The return would most likely be on an NFL field, where Newsome (despite the brutal injury) is expected to be a 6th-rounder. Both Michigan’s head coach and offensive coordinator agree that Newsome will “be a better player when he returns. He’s up there drawing up plays, he’s making cut-ups, and he’s helping guys on the field. He’s helping. He’ll be better because of it.” Although Newsome seems to be a project coming off of a gruesome injury, I believe he’s the type of character you want on a young and upcoming team to help set a powerful foundation for years to come.