Here’s where reality has to come into effect. I am not ever going to advocate for the benching of veteran left tackle Joe Staley. Now you could argue that given Staley’s age, the best thing for him is to not risk injury. The addition of offensive tackle Shon Coleman at the end of the preseason also gives a youthful player who could benefit from playing time. But, no. That’s not going to happen. Staley stays.
Really, this entire offensive line situation really is about one position: right guard. At some point, the 49ers have to make a choice whether to trade or start third-year pro Joshua Garnett. Keeping him on the bench does no good for no one, especially not the Niners. Garnett may be marginally worse than starting guard Mike Person, but he is younger and might still have a future with the team. Person, on the other hand, is a much tougher bet.
This isn’t to say that Person has played bad, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranks him as the No. 6 guard in the league. But Person is also gaining in years, and at this point of the season, it makes little sense for him to keep producing tape.
Garnett had a phenomenal preseason but simply struggled with injuries for too much time to really compete with Person. Yet, there is almost no risk to play Garnett. Worst case, he is absolutely terrible, and the 49ers would cut him loose. Best case, he plays at a Pro Bowl level, and the Niners have another cornerstone on the right side with the aforementioned Mike McGlinchey.
Verdict: Substitute Garnett for Person