Niner Noise’s annual “Who Is?” series on 2017 San Francisco 49ers players takes a look at undrafted free-agent offensive lineman Erik Magnuson and his roster chances this season.
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t use a single one of their picks in the 2017 NFL Draft to address their offensive line. But general manager John Lynch did make some undrafted free-agent pickups.
One of those was former Michigan offensive lineman Erik Magnuson.
Magnuson, a five-year contributor with the Wolverines, played a total of 46 games — 12 of them at right tackle his senior year.
San Francisco 49ers
At 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, Magnuson has the flexibility to play at either tackle or interior spots along the offensive line.
But rare are UDFA linemen making a 53-man roster their rookie seasons. As such, especially with some added competition along the 49ers offensive line — Jeremy Zuttah, Tim Barnes, Brandon Fusco, Garry Gilliam, etc. — is there a realistic shot for Magnuson to earn a role?
Let’s take a look and see what the rookie has to offer.
Why He’ll Improve
According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, Magnuson has good lateral movement for a player his size and looks competent enough to play in a zone scheme.
San Francisco will use an outside-zone blocking scheme this season under head coach Kyle Shanahan, so the fit looks to be there.
You can see some of the schematic fits in this DraftBreakdown.com video below:
As a right tackle, Magnuson would have to compete primarily with Gilliam and incumbent starter Trent Brown.
Brown isn’t exactly a zone-style fit, although Gilliam’s pass protection isn’t good enough to suggest he’ll take Brown’s spot.
If Magnuson can hold his own at a tackle spot, this would likely wind up being the spot backing up Brown. But the thing that makes Magnuson worthwhile is his flexibility to play inside at guard.
Why He’ll Regress
While Magnuson looks to be a zone fit, Zierlein also pointed out the O-lineman doesn’t have the best length for a tackle position and could play a little too weak at guard.
Magnuson is good enough in space, but he’s not the most reliable in pass protection. As such, he’d basically look like a slower version of Gilliam. So it’s easy to see why promoting Magnuson over Gilliam on the depth chart wouldn’t exactly be an improvement.
The lack of strength would likely relegate Magnuson to the right side of the line, where rushing lanes are a bit less prevalent. Especially for San Francisco.
So, based off the intangibles, Magnuson wouldn’t be much of a fit aside from a right guard or backup right tackle.
What to Expect in 2017
As noted earlier, Magnuson’s best chances to hang around would likely be on the practice squad this year.
Another factor to consider is the Niners have Zane Beadles, last year’s left guard, possibly winding up being the team’s ultimate backup lineman. Beadles can play both tackle positions, as well as all three interior-line spots. So the need to keep a player like Magnuson on the roster is slim to none.
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This could be a good thing for Magnuson though.
He can’t do anything about the length. But some conditioning may work to his favor, and he could wind up being a solid backup piece for San Francisco’s interior in 2018 or 2019.
If the Niners keep him around, that is.
Look for Magnuson to be featured on the third-string O-line during training camp and the preseason. Any unit promotion would be a major hint the Niners are liking what they see out of his production.
Still, he’s a long shot to make the roster.