How 49ers can bolster O-line with free agents, familiar faces

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The 49ers head into Wednesday's start of 2023 NFL free agency with the need to examine the state of their offensive line, and there are a few players they could target. 

Veteran right tackle Mike McGlinchey is set to receive a sizable payday after five seasons with San Francisco. General manager John Lynch spoke to local Bay Area media while at the NFL Scouting Combine and explained the 49ers would like to have the Notre Dame product return to Santa Clara in 2023, but they likely can't afford what the cost would be.

There is a limited amount of free-agent tackles and even fewer right tackles that might fall into the price range the 49ers would consider. Here are a few: 

RT Billy Turner

Last team: Denver Broncos
Age: 31
Experience: 9 years
2022 salary: $1.64M
Note: Appeared in eight games and played 88 percent of offensive snaps in those games

T David Quessenberry

Last team: Buffalo Bills
Age: 32
Experience: 5 years
2022 salary: $1.75M
Note: Appeared in 15 games and played 37 percent of offensive snaps in those games

T Greg Little

Last team: Miami Dolphins
Age: 25
Experience: 4 years
2022 salary: $1.56M
Note: Appeared in 16 games and played 50 percent of offensive snaps in those games

T Cedric Ogbuehi

Last team: New York Jets
Age: 30
Experience: 8 years
2022 salary: $1.12M
Note: Appeared in 7 games and played 69 percent of offensive snaps in those games

The 49ers might need to look to their own offensive line free agents, too.

Jake Brendel is set to hit free agency but at a much more affordable rate than his offensive line counterpart, McGlinchey. In Brendel's third season with the 49ers, the 30-year-old center’s 2022 salary was $1.03 million — a career high. Brendel also is mobile enough to handle the demands of coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme.

“We’d like him back,” Lynch said. "He’s a good player and I think he played very well for us. We’d like to get Jake back.”

Versatile lineman and free agent Daniel Brunskill has played all across the line and is another player that wouldn’t break the bank. The 29-year-old had a 2022 salary of $2.43 million, also a career high. The four-year veteran was a key contributor to the growth of rookie right guard Spencer Burford.

The two guards spent the season rotating in games lining up next to McGlinchey.  Offensive line coach Chris Foerster helped the two make the constant transitions seamless.

“Danny, he’s a stud, man, he really is,” Lynch said. “He really lifted Spencer Burford. [I] talked a lot to Chris and Kyle, and the exact way Spencer broke in is the way I broke in as a starter. I had a guy, Barney Bussey down in Tampa, and we would rotate by quarters sometimes.

“Eventually after about three games, I took it and ran with it. It wasn’t that Spencer never took it and ran with it, but it was just working really well, and Dan is a good football player.” 

If the 49ers are unable to lock down Brendel for the 2023 NFL season, Keith Ismael is another candidate that the team already has on the roster. The San Diego State product was drafted by the Washington Commanders in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, where he played 18 games over two seasons.

The 24-year-old did not see any playing time with the 49ers in 2022, but he's someone that Lynch and the club believe in. 

RELATED: How 49ers can affordably address D-line in free agency

The general manager also shared that Brock Purdy’s roommate, Nick Zakelj, could have potential to play center along with Jason Poe. Neither of the two young players have spent time at center, as the staff didn’t want to overwhelm the two rookies.

As the club looks towards free agency the 49ers brain trust knows All-Pro Trent Williams will be playing at left tackle with Aaron Banks at guard next to him. Spencer Burford likely will lock down the right guard position, but who steps in at center and right tackle is where there is uncertainty.

As the 2023 free agency period shakes out, the picture may become more clear.

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