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49ers trade up, select Kansas O-lineman Puni No. 86 overall

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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers return all of their top linemen from one of the top offenses in the NFL last season.

And on Friday, they added a promising player whom general manager John Lynch clearly envisions becoming a long-term starter.

The 49ers traded up to select offensive lineman Dominick Puni of Kansas with the No. 86 overall pick in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

The 49ers dealt their third-round pick at No. 94 and a fourth-rounder (No. 132) to the Philadelphia Eagles to select Puni.

Puni comes to the team and likely will compete for a role in his rookie season — wherever the 49ers want to use him.

“I think Dominic Puni is one of the few players in this draft who can play all five spots on the offensive line,” said Jim Nagy, executive director of the Senior Bowl, on 49ers Talk.

The 49ers have reason to feel good about the state of their offensive line with each of their starters back from a year ago: Left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Aaron Banks, center Jake Brendel, right guard Jon Feliciano and right tackle Colton McKivitz. Feliciano replaced Spencer Burford late last season.

But there is also reason for them to look to strengthen that unit and prepare for the near future when there figures to be some moving pieces. Williams, who turns 36 in July, is set to enter his 14th NFL season, while Banks and Feliciano are signed only through the upcoming season.

Puni (6-foot-5, 313 pounds) began his college career at right tackle at Central Missouri in 2018 before shifting to left tackle the next two seasons.

After transferring to Kansas in 2022, he played left guard. And last season he started every game at left tackle. Puni could compete for playing time on the right side of the offensive line.

Puni does not figure to be just handed a starting job along the 49ers’ offensive line. He will have to earn it.

The 49ers are coming off a season in which the offensive line overcame some early season struggles on the right side of the line and ended up coming together down the stretch of the season.

In 2021, the 49ers selected Banks in the second round with the No. 48 overall selection. He ended up playing just five offensive snaps all season as guards Laken Tomlinson and Daniel Brunskill remained as the 49ers’ starters for the entire season.

Banks took over at left guard the following season after Tomlinson signed with the New York Jets as a free agent.

The 49ers are coming off a season in which their offensive line ranked No. 9 in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus’ grading system.

Running back Christian McCaffrey won NFL Offensive Player of the Year while leading the NFL with 1,459 rushing yards. He finished third in the NFL MVP voting while quarterback Brock Purdy placed fourth.

The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to have a running back (McCaffrey), two wide receivers (Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel) and a tight end (George Kittle) registered 1,000 yards or more from scrimmage in a single season.

In the 16 games with Purdy at quarterback (with the top seed in the NFC clinched, he sat out the team’s Week 18 game), the 49ers averaged 29.4 points and 404.5 yards of total offense.

Purdy set the 49ers’ single-season record with 4,280 yards passing, led the NFL with a passer rating of 113.0 and was sacked just 28 times.

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