49ers’ 2018 ‘Who Is?’ series: Offensive lineman Alan Knott

A detailed view of a San Francisco 49ers helmet (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
A detailed view of a San Francisco 49ers helmet (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Niner Noise’s 2018 “Who Is?” series on San Francisco 49ers players this season looks at an undrafted free-agent lineman, Alan Knott, and if he can make the 53-man roster this year.

The San Francisco 49ers spent considerable effort this offseason revamping their offensive line.

Most of the moves, of course, focused on would-be starters. The Niners moved center Daniel Kilgore in favor of free-agent pickup Weston Richburg and also selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey to replace Trent Brown on the right side.

But any roster guru can tell you depth is as important as quality starters. San Francisco has some question marks there heading deeper into the offseason.

So it makes sense the 49ers took a flier on undrafted free-agent lineman Alan Knott following the 2018 NFL Draft.

Knott, a four-year starter out of South Carolina, primarily played at center during his collegiate tenure. His efforts in 2015 would have likely meant him being drafted at some point in the later rounds. But he had issues the following year, and his final year at South Carolina was so-so at best.

Still, developmental prospects can be worth their weight in gold if they overachieve. And that’s what San Francisco should expect from Knott.

Will it be enough to crack the Niners’ 53-man roster this season, though? Let’s take a look.

Why Alan Knott Improves in 2018

Knott’s DraftAnalyst.com profile tells us a good deal why the 49ers expressed interest:

"Stays square and blocks with tremendous fundamentals. Terrific position blocker who seals defenders from the action. Quickly sets up off the snap, keeps his feet moving and works well with teammates. Effective with shotgun snaps and fires into blocks. Very effective with his hands, correctly places them into opponents and works them throughout the action."

Centers are integral in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The zone-style scheme requires excellent mobility, as well as adequate effectiveness blocking in space.

The above traits appear to fit in well with this kind of approach. And with a 5.07 40-yard time at his pro day, Knott moves nicely enough for the position.

Why He Regresses

Knott was excellent back in 2015, posting an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 79.5 that year. But his efforts faltered the following season, resulting in an overall mark of 38.8 with one sack and 20 hurries allowed.

Those numbers improved slightly last season — one sack and 12 hurries allowed — but it’s little more than a modest improvement over 2016.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

It’s anyone’s guess why. Knott has had some injuries over his collegiate career, but it’s worth pointing out he’s only 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds. That’s slightly undersized for the position, mandating he adds some more bulk to his frame while retaining the above-average athleticism.

He’s also had issues with interior bull rushes, which could be a major problem at the next level.

Chances of Making the 49ers’ 53-Man Roster

Richburg is the penciled-in starter for 2018. As far as the No. 2 spot behind him is concerned, it’s up for grabs.

A favorite, perhaps, is second-year pro Erik Magnuson, who saw time at all three positions between the preseason and regular season last year. Magnuson, by no means, is a finished product. But it’s safe to assume he has a leg up over Knott in this camp competition.

The likeliest of scenarios is Knott working with third-team units between now and the start of the regular season.

If he performs well enough, it’s still not likely he cracks the 53-man roster in Week 1.

But as a possible practice squad addition, that’s another story.

Next: Biggest winners & losers from final week of 49ers OTAs

He’ll have to showcase his strength over the course of training camp and not be the kind of liability he was against interior pass-rushers his final two years at college, though.