SF 49ers O-line roster moves suggest Ben Garland is ready

Offensive lineman Ben Garland #63 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Offensive lineman Ben Garland #63 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers have been without backup center Ben Garland for much of training camp, but cut-down roster moves suggest he’ll be available for Week 1.

After weeks of speculation, we now know what the SF 49ers‘ Week 1 53-man roster will look like as the team prepares for its regular-season opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 13. While there could be some minor tweaks and changes between now and then, the vast majority of position spots have been filled.

And with relatively few surprises.

A not-so-big of a surprise cut was the Niners parting ways with veteran interior offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu, who was signed during camp to alleviate some of the injury concerns the team had up front.

But Grasu didn’t make the cut. And that suggests San Francisco is prepared to start Ben Garland at center in Week 1.

Garland, of course, shouldn’t be No. 1 on the team’s depth chart. But with veteran center Weston Richburg kicking off the year on the physically unable-to-perform list after suffering a torn patellar tendon last year in Week 14, Garland was presumed to be the fill-in starter as he was for last season’s stretch run and into the playoffs.

The only problem, though, was Garland suffered his own injury in training camp, going down with a sprained ankle that kept him out for the better part of the final two weeks before roster cuts. Grasu rounded out the practice units. But if he had been kept, it would have suggested Garland wasn’t anywhere close to being able to return.

The Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman explained further:

"It’s unclear if Ben Garland, the presumptive starter at center, will be available after spraining his ankle in training camp. Though releasing Grasu indicates Garland could be ready. Richburg will be first eligible to return off the physically-unable-to-perform list for the Oct. 25 game against the New England Patriots."

Will SF 49ers end up starting Ben Garland in Week 1

It’s one thing the Niners elected not to use an injury designation on Garland, which would have kept him out at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

But it’s another to suggest he’ll be fully ready to go in time for Week 1.

In the wake of Garland’s injury, San Francisco slid the versatile offensive lineman, Daniel Brunskill, over from right guard to center. Then the 49ers inserted backup guard Tom Compton into Brunskill’s stead.

Neither player flashed in these new roles during training camp, which led to some notable concerns the Niners O-line could be an early liability.

Still, there’s a chance Garland winds up being the backup for the first week, essentially serving as one of those players who can take the field only if needed, not the preferred player who could go out and risk further injury even though he’d be listed with the active players on game day.

Next. 3 waived players 49ers should try claiming after roster cuts. dark

So it’s not quite a guarantee Garland will be in San Francisco’s starting lineup when Week 1 kicks off.

With some of the depth questions, however, it seems he’s much closer to resuming his starting role than what was initially thought.