How Joe Staley retirement shakes up 49ers depth chart

Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The retirement of San Francisco 49ers perennial left tackle Joe Staley has left a big hole on the roster in terms of veteran leadership. However, subsequent events have left the depth chart in an interesting position.

Unfortunately, the career of stalwart tackle Joe Staley has come to a finish after 13 faithful seasons with the San Francisco 49ers organization.

A three-time All-Pro, a six-time Pro Bowler and a member of the 2010s All-Decade team were the fruits of his illustrious careers.

Membership in Canton surely will follow at some point.

So where to next for the 49ers? Normally replacing such an integral position that had been manned for over a decade would be a very tricky situation, but general manager John Lynch pulled off a masterstroke during the 2020 NFL Draft.

Trading two mid-round picks (a fifth-rounder this year and a third-rounder next year) for perennial Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams was an absolute steal.

The stubbornness of the Washington Redskins to not trade Williams, turning down a first-round selection in the process (which would have become a very important selection given the craziness of the draft this year) turned into the 49ers gain as they were able to acquire a replacement for relative peanuts.

Williams is one of the few tackles in the last decade you could argue was even better than Staley, it may be too much to think he will play at 100 percent given his year out of football, but even at 75 percent, he will be a very dependable blindside blocker for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

However given his familiarity with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s blocking schemes, it’s hopeful he can have a seamless transition.

But what about the depth behind Williams and right tackle Mike McGlinchey?

Well, Daniel Brunskill might be the most talented reserve, coming out of nowhere to become the most versatile member of the 49ers offensive line where he plugged several gaps due to injuries including Staley himself.

The problem? Mike Person was cut as a salary cap-saving measure, which frees up a starting spot at right guard. As the most talented member of the depth chart who isn’t a starter, Brunskill is the favorite to claim that role for his own.

With that in mind, the two most likely candidates to be the backups would be Justin Skule and Shon Coleman. Skule actually did play at left tackle during the season and was very patchy alternating between good and having flags thrown on him every drive, but he did show enough talent that he can be groomed into (at worst) a reasonable backup on the roster.

As for Coleman, a broken leg in preseason cut off his 2019 campaign before it began. However, it’s hopeful he can play well in the preseason to become a productive backup himself.

It’s likely the 49ers will take just these four tackles into the new 55-man roster allowed under the new CBA rules. Fifth-round rookie Colton McKivitz will likely be moved to guard to fight for the right guard starting position, but in a pinch, he could theoretically become the team’s fifth tackle on the depth chart if he’s needed to fill in at right tackle.

We’ll likely see some camp battles with undrafted free agents also at the tackle position, but it seems unlikely that any of them will be a factor in the depth chart. Still, given the performance of Brunskill last season, it can’t be ruled out as a possibility.

Next. Why 49ers road to Super Bowl LV just got tougher after 2020 NFL Draft. dark

With tackle being such an important position, all eyes will be on them when the team (at whatever time) gets back onto the practice field.