San Francisco 49ers: 10 Biggest X-Factors for 2016 Season
By Peter Panacy
No. 8: Offensive Guard Joshua Garnett
The 49ers moved back into Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft to select former Stanford guard Joshua Garnett.
Garnett is a run-blocking standout, which is a great thing for a 49ers offensive live needing some improvement here. The Niners ranked 21st in the league last year on the ground with 1,544 rushing yards. And Pro Football Focus gave San Francisco’s O-line a 30th-ranked run-blocking mark in 2015.
The Niners have a need at guard after losing veteran Alex Boone to free agency this offseason, so Garnett could wind up being a plug-and-play starter right off the bat.
Why He’ll Improve
There are concerns whether or not Garnett, who operated within Stanford’s power-run scheme, will be able to adjust to the 49ers inside-zone approach employed by head coach Chip Kelly.
But, as Niner Noise’s Rich Madrid pointed out, there are plenty of misconceptions between the scheme fit of Garnett and the Niners.
Garnett’s learning curve may not be as difficult as one might think. According to Madrid, a lot of Kelly’s own playbook may emphasize the things Garnett will do well.
Tack that on to where San Francisco’s run-game struggles were last year, and it’s easy to see how Garnett could be a difference-maker.
Why He’ll Disappoint
On the flip side, questions about Garnett’s scheme fit aren’t the only thing to worry about when evaluating the rookie’s potential. Even Stanford head coach David Shaw noted, during NFL Network’s coverage of the draft, Garnett’s pass protection needs some work.
OK, so many offensive linemen go through this same issue. But if Garnett becomes a turnstile-type player right off the bat, the promising rookie may be more of a liability than anything else.
And that’s not exactly what a team will want out of a first-round draft choice.
Next: No. 7: EDGE Tank Carradine