5 pending free agents SF 49ers should watch this postseason

Austin Blythe #66 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Austin Blythe #66 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /
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Austin Blythe, LA Rams
Los Angeles Rams center Austin Blythe (66) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: Center Austin Blythe, LA Rams

There are a number of offensive players Kyle Shanahan could look at this offseason, and both the Packers and Rams offenses run similar systems where pending free agents could make a lot of sense.

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Particularly up front along the offensive line.

Shanahan considers his starting center one of the most crucial, and the SF 49ers struggled here in 2020 in the wake of veteran center Weston Richburg’s 2019 knee injury that kept him out all of last season. That led to a revolving door, both influenced by additional injuries and poor play, and prompting ideas the Niners could move on from Richburg as a cap casualty in 2021.

What could potentially be a helpful factor is looking at Rams center Austin Blythe, who served as the starter at center for Los Angeles for all 16 games and earned a solid 69.3 overall grade over the course of the season.

Blythe, a five-year veteran, has been with LA for the last three seasons and understands a similar offense to that of Shanahan’s where rollouts, bootlegs and pulls are common and often used. Even though Blythe will likely be a modestly decent free-agent target on the open market, he’ll surely command much less than what Richburg is scheduled to make in 2021.

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And if Blythe looks good in the playoffs, San Francisco should be interested.