Image Credit: Mark Tenally/Associated Press
In a move that surprised few, the 49ers released tackle Garry Gilliam on Wednesday. Gilliam had served as the team’s swing tackle the last two seasons after signing as a free agent in April of 2017. In Gilliam’s two seasons with the 49ers he made one start and 24 appearances, he played only 84 snaps in 2018 but saw the field in all 16 games as the primary back-up to Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, and on special teams.
Gilliam was heading into the final year of his contract with the team and was scheduled to earn $4.5 million next season while counting $5.05 million against the salary cap. The move will net the 49ers the full $5.05 million saving against the cap in 2019 due to Gilliam having no guaranteed money left on his deal.
The release of Gilliam opens the door for Shon Coleman to step into the swing tackle role. The former third-round pick was acquired from the Cleveland Browns for a 2019 seventh-round pick after starting 16 games for Cleveland in 2017.
With Staley turning 35 this offseason, it’s likely that the team acquires another tackle either through free agency or the draft. The coaching staff will give Coleman every opportunity to win the job in training camp, but he had fallen out of favor with Cleveland and was inactive all 16 games of 2018. The front office will likely use a later round draft pick on a player that they see as the eventual replacement to Staley when he retires.
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