5 offensive NFL Draft prospects 49ers must have atop big board

Running back Breece Hall #28 of the Iowa State Cyclones (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Running back Breece Hall #28 of the Iowa State Cyclones (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /
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Luke Fortner, Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky Wildcats guard Luke Fortner (79) Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports /

Kentucky. 3. Scouting Report. Offensive Line. player. 833. Pick Analysis. Luke Fortner

No. 3 player on 49ers NFL Draft big board: IOL Luke Fortner, Kentucky

Mike McGlinchey’s long-term status with the team isn’t the only offensive line spot the Niners need to worry about.

Pro Bowl center Alex Mack is getting up there in age and will turn 37 years old by the time the 2021 season concludes. And while there’s no initial indication he’s imminently going to retire, San Francisco had better start thinking about contingency plans for his replacement.

Good thing there are a few high-quality interior linemen available to look at in this year’s NFL Draft.

Sure, prospects like Boston College’s Zion Johnson or Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum are up there. But both are probably long gone by the time the 49ers’ number is called for the first time in the draft.

However, Kentucky’s Luke Fortner would be a quality consolation prize.

Fortner, 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds, is a cerebral and versatile chess piece in the middle of an offensive line. While his movement skills aren’t necessarily the best, he nevertheless showcased plenty of zone-style concepts tailored to his abilities at Kentucky and could immediately translate those over into guard play if selected by the Niners.

Beyond that, and knowing Kyle Shanahan prefers veterans over rookies at center, San Francisco could then look to turn Fortner into an eventual replacement for Mack as soon as 2023.