49ers roster 2024: Ben Bartch a dark-horse candidate for the offensive line

Ben Bartch gives the Niners another versatile option to support the offensive line entering 2024.
San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Ben Bartch (78)
San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Ben Bartch (78) / Robin Alam/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The 49ers picked up Ben Bartch midway through 2023 and re-signed him during the offseason. Could he be in the mix to fill a depth role on the offensive line?

The San Francisco 49ers have a handful of notable questions surrounding their offensive line entering 2024.

Will center Jake Brendel be healthy enough after news of knee tendonitis surfaced during organized team activities? Should it be Jon Feliciano, Spencer Burford or the rookie, Dominick Puni, at right guard? Can right tackle Colton McKivitz show improvement after a so-so first-year starting campaign at right tackle?

And what about the Niners' reserve roles for the O-line? Who'll occupy those openings?

When thinking about San Francisco's backups, particularly those who could fill in as a starter, veteran Ben Bartch isn't a name that's commonly tossed around. Puni, Burford, Jaylon Moore and another rookie, Jarrett Kingston, might be more favored as go-to reserves who make the 53-man roster.

But Bartch should be in the discussion, too.

Who is Ben Bartch, and how did he find his way to the 49ers?

Bartch, who made his way into the NFL as a fourth-round draft pickup of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020 out of St. John's, spent his first three-plus years with the Jags and saw action both at tackle and guard during that timeframe.

With 46 regular-season games under his belt, 20 of them starts, the 25 year old has both positional flexibility and starting experience in his repertoire.

In 2022, however, he suffered a dislocated knee and was shelved on injured reserve. The following season, Jacksonville benched him early in the season before finally waiving him, subsequently signing him to its practice squad after he cleared waivers.

Later that November, the 49ers signed Bartch to their active roster off the Jaguars' practice squad.

What is Ben Bartch's contract with 49ers?

After seeing action in five regular-season games with them in 2023, the Niners opted to re-sign Bartch to a one-year contract worth up to $1.125 million, $302,400 of which is guaranteed, according to Over the Cap.

That's a decent amount of guaranteed money, which suggests Bartch has a better-than-average chance to crack the 53-man roster out of those fringe players who are on the weaker side of the bubble.

If Ben Bartch makes 49ers' 53-man roster, what will his role be?

Barring injury, San Francisco likely isn't envisioning Bartch as a starter. Especially after adding both Puni and Kingston in the draft.

However, the 49ers value both experience and versatility with their backups, and Bartch possesses both.

He might have to beat out other depth players like Moore and Kingston to stand a chance, and the guaranteed cash doesn't automatically guarantee a roster spot even if it's a relatively high amount for a player widely viewed as a training camp invitee.

Should he survive roster cuts, however, Bartch would likely resume the kind of role he had last year where he'd serve as a flexible backup who'd also double on special teams if active on game day.

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