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Much of the talk about the 49ers in the run-up to the draft has been focused on the wide receivers and cornerbacks. But sources indicate the 49ers also have a deep appreciation for the offensive linemen in this draft.
The 49ers return four of the five starters who have played nearly every snap together for the past two seasons. Daniel Kilgore is slated to take over for veteran center Jonathan Goodwin, but he could get some competition along the way.
Left guard Mike Iupati, who is recovering nicely from a broken ankle sustained in the NFC Championship game, enters the final year of his contract before he is expected to cash in with a big contract the next year. It remains to be seen whether the 49ers will provide Iupati with the kind of contract that will prevent him from shopping around.
Because there are so many offensive linemen the 49ers like in this draft, they can be expected to come out of their scheduled 11 draft picks with a player or two who conceivably could work into the starting lineup in the future.
Who's here: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, Alex Boone, Daniel Kilgore, Jonathan Martin, Adam Snyder, Joe Looney, Ryan Seymour, Carter Bykowski, Al Netter, Luke Marquardt
Draft needs: Staley is a bargain through the 2017 season, though there are rumblings he’s looking for a new deal. Davis is signed through 2019. The 49ers have not had a true swing tackle for a couple seasons. And there could be a need at a guard position as early as next season, depending on what happens with Iupati. The 49ers appear to have some depth with Martin, Snyder and Looney, but there might be some players available who are too good to pass up.
Good fits: If the 49ers take a lineman within the first couple days of the draft, it would most likely to be come in to provide serious competition for Kilgore. Weston Richburg (Colorado State), Marcus Martin (USC) and Travis Swanson (Arkansas) are among the potential first-year starters.
Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama) has the physical attributes, including long arms, but figures to be gone by the end of the second round. The 49ers would not hesitate to select a player to work with respected offensive line coach Mike Solari for a season or two to develop into a starter down the road. Tackles Matt Patchan (Boston College), Seantrel Henderson (Miami) and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (McGill, Montreal) have drawn attention from the 49ers with private visits.
The 49ers could also grab a “redshirt” pick in guard Brandon Thomas (Clemson), who recently sustained an ACL tear. The 49ers would likely keep him on the non-football injury list for the entire season so he’d still be under contract for four seasons beginning next season.