We’ve discussed some players who could start from Week 1, but what about a prospect who is a bit more raw and requires some coaching?
The injury to tackle Joe Staley has shown just how lucky the 49ers have been with their starting left tackle’s durability during his long career. Sixth-round rookie lineman Justin Skule is now in prime position to make himself Staley’s successor, and his first start was reasonable, but San Francisco isn’t married to Skule as a starter going forward.
If tackle Prince Tega Wanogho becomes a possible draft target for the team, then the 49ers had a very successful year, as Wanogho is too raw to be considered anywhere before pick No. 25.
The physical gifts are all there for Wanogho. He’s athletic, strong and passes the eyeball test for what you want in a blind-side protector. The downside is he’s very raw in his technique from how he sets his feet, to how he uses his hands to how he sets his weight. He lacks basic football IQ, but can be taught.
Wanogho is not a Week 1 NFL starter, but he is a candidate for teams that can afford to make him a backup for a few seasons as they teach him the finer points of blocking. The 49ers would be a perfect team for this, as Staley still has a few seasons left in the tank and would be a perfect mentor as one of the top left tackles in the NFL.
It may not be the most popular pick for a first-rounder, but it could make a lot of sense to set up the long-term future of the 49ers’ offensive line.