The 49ers may not have the cap space to offer up a sizable new contract to pending free-agent lineman Laken Tomlinson, but these replacements may do.
The San Francisco 49ers have a number of re-sign priorities with the league new year (and NFL free agency) officially kicking off on March 16.
Chief among these should be veteran left guard Laken Tomlinson, a stalwart mainstay of the Niners offensive line who hasn’t missed a start since being acquired via trade from the Detroit Lions early in the 2017 season.
Tomlinson, who just made his first Pro Bowl at the end of 2021, might cost San Francisco between $8 million and $10 million annually on a new deal. And with Tomlinson having just turned 30 years old, this might be his last best chance to capitalize on a lucrative contract.
Even if the 49ers trade or release quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, they’d still have roughly $20 million in cap space, and about $7 million of that will need to be reserved for the 2022 NFL Draft class, meaning re-signing Tomlinson might not happen after all.
It’s anyone’s guess how it pans out, but if Tomlinson doesn’t re-sign, the Niners may look to these five options to replace him.
49ers option No. 5: Cordell Volson, NDSU (via NFL Draft)
San Francisco could afford to restock its offensive line a bit during the draft, and one of the day-three picks worth watching is North Dakota State lineman Cordell Volson.
A former teammate of the 49ers’ soon-to-be starting quarterback, Trey Lance, Volson is an absolute mauler in the run game and has a level of nastiness that would immediately make him a fan favorite. At 6-foot-6 and 319 pounds, Volson played all along the Bison’s O-line but primarily worked at tackle. However, he likely projects to be a better guard at the NFL level where he can keep in more confined spaces.
While Volson isn’t quite as adept in pass protection, playing alongside perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams would certainly aid him a lot.
Sure, day-three linemen aren’t exactly viewed as plug-and-play options. Yet someone like Volson could easily be a riser and turn heads in training camp en route to a starting role.