Laken Tomlinson has been extremely reliable for the 49ers since his arrival from Detroit in 2017. The 49ers must go all out to re-sign him this offseason.
In 2017, when the San Francisco 49ers struck a deal with the Detroit Lions and traded for guard Laken Tomlinson, they gained the abundance of a player who has been beyond reliable since his arrival, starting 20 out of 20 games (including playoffs) and evolving into a Pro Bowl player last season.
The best part about the transaction is the fact it only cost the Niners a 2019 fifth-round NFL Draft pick.
San Francisco already has a busy schedule ahead this offseason with general manager John Lynch, already hinting at extensions for “wide-back” Deebo Samuel and defensive end Nick Bosa. Cornerback Jason Verrett, running back Raheem Mostert and, after key plays in critical moments late in the season, defensive tackle D.J. Jones, will all be free agents and waiting on their paydays from the 49ers as well.
With all that being said, here’s why it’s Tomlinson who should be the first order of business.
Why 49ers must prioritize Laken Tomlinson in NFL free agency
Tomlinson is fresh out of a Pro Bowl season that saw him give up a stingy limit of just two sacks in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus, so he’s an absolute stud protecting in the passing game. San Francisco’s identity last season was primarily rushing the football, and Tomlinson played an integral role in creating those rushing lanes producing those opportunities for running backs and Samuel, too, when he was placed in the backfield.
Tomlinson’s impact has been felt beyond just this season, as the Niners have consistently kept at least a decent rushing attack over the last few years. In 2021, San Francisco had the seventh-ranked team rushing yards per game.
In terms of the Niners’ identity, as of the last few years, the two distinct seasons that San Francisco has had its best chance at winning the Super Bowl, the philosophy was centered around a stout rushing attack.
During the 2019 Super Bowl campaign the 49ers ranked 15th in rushing for the year, but it was their rushing attack that propelled them into the Super Bowl, hence Mostert’s monster NFC Championship game where he rushed for 220 yards and scored four touchdowns.
This year, it was Samuel’s emergence in the backfield taking handoffs that nearly landed them another trip into the Super Bowl.
Tomlinson’s productivity and reliability simply cannot be ignored and neglected, and not re-signing him without an equitable replacement for him could be disastrous for the make-up of the team, as well as team chemistry. Over the last five years since being traded from Detroit, Tomlinson has played in 99.4 percent of the 49ers’ overall offensive snaps.
San Francisco is close to a title, and he is an important piece of the puzzle. The Niners must re-sign Laken Tomlinson and keep their offensive line and rushing game intact to continue their push at a Super Bowl.