What does Mike Persons Extension Mean for 49ers Free Agency and the Draft
Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The Extension of Mike Person and the New Adventures It May Bring
If you started Monday morning like every other American, it probably felt as familiar as an old pair of wingtip shoes. Your coffee was hot, traffic was moderate, and your bagel and lox tasted just as it usually does.
Your freeze-dried Taster’s Choice, loaded with six sugars and whole milk, may have tasted like serious gourmet java.
Yesterday, right guard Mike Person’s breakfast was probably the greatest of his life. His black coffee, steaming and perfectly hot, had all the flavor of Juan Valdez delivering a fresh bag of roasted beans directly to his doorstep.
Not even the high clouds lingering over the coastal mountains could dampen the Person’s day.
The 49ers guaranteed Person $3 million dollars, which was probably a nice way of rewarding his 2018 performance. Person had some of the lowest numbers on the offensive line last season, allowing only one sack and seven hurries.
Person’s extension was the first significant move the 49ers made this offseason. There is nothing more monotonous than signing a handful of players to a reserve contract, placing a franchise tag on a kicker and calling it news.
Further, the extension adds new intrigue into what the 49ers may or may not do in the coming weeks with the offensive line.
Assured: Say Good Bye to Joshua Garnett
Last season, the 49ers paid third-year right guard Joshua Garnett $2.54 million to play 59 snaps, or about $43,009.14 for about an hour of football. Person, on the other hand, played 999 snaps and earned $915.92 per play.
If you’re a value shopper, you know who you’re placing in your shopping cart.
In years to come, Garnett will write a tell-all book sharing why he wasn’t a good fit for the scarlet and gold. He’ll have a list of people to blame, but in reality, he can only rant and point the finger at himself.
He had a dismal rookie season in 2016, finishing the year with a 42.2 grade from Pro Football Focus.
Unfortunately, Garnett hurt his knee at the start of the 2017 training camp and underwent arthroscopic surgery had during the first part of August. There was a small sliver of hope he’d return after a few weeks but ultimately enjoyed watching 16 football games from the comforts of the sidelines.
The 2018 training camp did not begin well for Garnett. He came into camp ready to play, but collided with a teammate, banging his knee up once again.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan provided a slightly annoyed response when asked about Garnett’s injury on August 5, 2018.
“His knee’s bothering him. He’s gotten some other opinions and stuff. We’re going to give him a week, take this week off, continue to get treatment and then reassess it next week.”
I have to imagine what’s bothering the 49ers is paying a former Outland Trophy winner $43,000 to fill in with the starters now and then.
Garnett deserves a fresh start elsewhere, and the 49ers should grant him the opportunity before the start of free agency.
Questionable: Free Agency
Person, unlike Garnett and Erik Magnuson, can play nearly any position on the line and play it well. The 49ers have lacked real depth at almost every position on the field including the front five.
In my perfect football world, where we guzzle fresh, cold Anchor beer and eat Silva’s taco trucks during 49er games, Person’s extension is merely a way for the 49ers to acquire a high-value guard like the Los Angeles Rams’ Rodger Saffold.
Championship-caliber teams are built upon the spines and sinews of men who can play football. The 49ers have not had a roster of capable back-up players in over five years, especially on the offensive line.
Mike Person can be the reliable back-up the team has needed.
During the opening game of the 2018 season, Person went down with an injury. Garnett substituted for Person at right guard but went down with an injury just a few plays later.
Shanahan was forced to move rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey to right guard and play veteran Garry Gilliam at right tackle. When Person went down, the offensive line played only as well as the weakest links – Garnett and Gilliam.
Granted, this was the doomsday scenario for the 49ers. But no professional football team will win more than 10 games with Garnett and Gilliam as back-up linemen.
Adding Saffold as the starting right guard, moving Person to the back-up interior lineman and Shon Coleman as the swing tackle is an ideal situation for the 49ers.
Still Likely: Drafting a Guard
There are no Las Vegas odds for the following scenario, but I’d say it’s as close to even money as you’ll get.
Person will be the starting right guard for the 49ers in 2019. The 49ers will have Coleman fill in as the swing tackle and will draft a guard in the second or third round of the 2019 NFL draft.
The 49ers can enter the 2019 season with five men who played most of last season together. There’s no point in trying to fiddle with the offensive line’s projected starters, and there’s no need to create a position battle artificially.
Person, guard Laken Tomlinson, and center Weston Richburg are capable of producing wins and paving rushing lanes this fall. However, now is an ideal time to add someone like guard Michael Jordan from Ohio State or Michael Deiter from Wisconsin to the roster.
As much as I want the 49ers to bring Saffold to the Bay, the last scenario sounds the most probable and wise for the team as it builds for 2019 and into the future.
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