49ers cutting Mike Person in 2020 is a real possibility

The San Francisco 49ers interior offensive line wasn’t bad in 2019, per se, but the team could ultimately decide to part ways with veteran guard Mike Person in 2020 for a multitude of reasons.

On the surface, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the San Francisco 49ers to think about cutting veteran right guard Mike Person this offseason.

And yet there’s a good chance they do.

Sports Illustrated’s Nicholas McGee, who used to write for Niner Noise (had to throw that in there), listed Person as a possible cut this offseason. He wrote:

Keeping elite interior defensive linemen in check is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, right guard Mike Person’s struggles on the interior of the offensive line were stark, with the pressure that led to Jimmy Garoppolo‘s first interception conceded by the veteran right guard.

San Francisco would save $2.5million by releasing Person. No dead money is attached to his contract and, with the versatile Daniel Brunskill – an exclusive rights free agent – having filled in extremely well when Person was out through injury, the 49ers have a viable alternative.

NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco also suggested Brunskill could compete for a starting job with Person this offseason and into 2020.

But if the Niners already have their minds made up, Person could be out long before training camp rolls around this summer.

McGee pointed out a key reason: cap savings and the fact Person has no guaranteed money attached to his current contract this year. Granted, $2.5 million is pretty cheap money for a quality starter. And aside from the brief neck injury Person dealt with late in 2019, he’s been reliable his last two seasons in San Francisco.

Reliable doesn’t always translate to top quality, though.

According to Pro Football Focus, Person went through a production drop, as his 2019 overall grade fell to 63.2 from 68.6 the previous year. It’s not a sharp drop off. But for a player who’ll turn 32 years old before the regular season begins, one can easily wonder if the Niners consider making an upgrade.

Perhaps installing Brunskill as a full-time starter, as Maiocco suggested.

There’s also the very real possibility the 49ers look to the 2020 NFL Draft as a means to get both younger and cheaper along the offensive line. San Francisco has just one pick, No. 31 overall, between Rounds 1 and 4, though, meaning the team will either have to do the unexpected and grab a lineman in the first round, trade back and get someone in the middle rounds or use one of its five picks in Rounds 5 through 7 to get another lineman.

But the key thing to remember here is a player’s future always gets tricky when there’s no more guaranteed money left.

That’s the situation Person finds himself in heading into 2020. When considering his age, the Niners’ possible wish to upgrade the O-line interior and the fact they could save a decent amount of cap space simply by cutting him, it’s not hard to understand why the veteran lineman’s future in San Francisco is in doubt.