Like any team, the 49ers want a stabilized offensive line, and they’ve made strides toward that before next week’s draft.
A year ago, they traded into the first round to select Stanford product Joshua Garnett, who eventually became their starting right guard. Then, last month, general manager John Lynch traded for Pro Bowl center Jeremy Zuttah.
So, all good, right? Not so fast. The 49ers need depth and developmental players for their offensive line’s interior.
True, Zane Beadles surprised last season, transforming from a free-agent afterthought into a versatile starter, mostly at left guard. Another capable veteran is Daniel Kilgore, who is returning from hamstring surgery.
Beyond that, the 49ers lack depth. Their only other interior offensive lineman is Alex Balducci, an undrafted rookie last year who converted from the defensive line.
The 49ers have not ignored interior linemen in their ramp up to the draft, and among those reportedly on their radar are Indiana’s Dan Feeney and San Diego State’s Nico Siragusa.
The Top Five:
1. Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky (6-4, 309) — A college tackle who projects inside because of his height and length of arms. Sound technically, Lamp’s most eye-opening performances came against SEC competition in non-league games against LSU (2015) and Alabama (2016). Missed Senior Bowl with high ankle sprain but considered durable and dependable.
2. Dan Feeney, Indiana (6-4, 305) — Helped pave the way for future NFL runners Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard in college, Feeney has good quickness and explosion. There is a concern that playing in an up-tempo system at Indiana will slow his development. There were issues with a concussion in 2016 and he missed an entire season with a Lisfranc injury in 2013.
3. Dion Dawkins, Temple (6-4, 314) — Coaches and personnel types like the fact that Dawkins spent four seasons in a pro-style offense in a three-point stance. Although a 40-game starter at left tackle for the Owls, Dawkins has the kind of square frame that projects to guard in the NFL. His power may make him a potential Day 1 starter. Red flag was an arrest outside a Philadelphia night club that ended with Dawkins agreeing to a diversionary program.
4. Pat Elfein, Ohio State (6-3, 303) — Winner of the Rimington Award as the top center in the country. Returned for his senior year rather than play in the NFL and was named All-Big Ten for the third time. Has played both left and right guard, so he has the versatility to play anywhere on the interior. A reliable shotgun snapper who has a wrestling background.
5. Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh (6-5, 300) — Very good at pulling and blocking at the second level, Johnson has shown good durability, missing only one game due to injury in his freshman year. At times relies on his agility and ability to recover rather than proper offensive line fundamentals. Movement could be useful in a zone scheme.
Keep an eye on:
Zach Banner, USC (6-8, 353) — Could also project as a tackle, where he played in college, although his size and power make him an intriguing inside presence. The Tacoma, Wash., product is the biological son of former Raiders star tackle Lincoln Kennedy, although he didn’t learn about until the seventh grade. Has seen weight get as high as 385 pounds.
Others: Isaac Asiata, Utah (6-3, 323), Nico Siragusa, San Diego State (6-4, 319), Danny Isadora, Miami (6-3, 306), Jordan Morgan, Kutztown (6-3, 309), Ethan Pocic, LSU (6-6, 310).
Depth chart: Zane Beadles (6-4, 305), Joshua Garnett (6-5, 321), Jeremy Zuttah (6-4, 300), Daniel Kilgore (6-3, 308), Alex Balducci (6-4, 310)
Last five drafted: Joshua Garnett (first round, Stanford, 2016), Ian Silberman (sixth round, Boston College, 2015), Marcus Martin (third round, USC, 2014), Brandon Thomas (third round, Clemson, 2014), Jason Slowey (sixth round, 2012, Western Oregon).