San Francisco 49ers Should Make An Aggressive Pitch To Upgrade The Line

Oct 18, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) rushes against Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe (60) during the second quarter at Levi
Oct 18, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) rushes against Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe (60) during the second quarter at Levi /

The San Francisco 49ers’ offensive line is one of the team’s biggest weaknesses entering the season – with that in mind, the team make a push for veteran tackle Eugene Monroe.

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As a unit, the San Francisco 49ers‘ offensive line gave up a staggering 53 sacks – tied with Cleveland for second most in the league. Only Tennessee gave up more (54). And that was with two supposedly mobile quarterbacks under center. There is no question that the holes on the line were a glaring need for the 49ers this offseason, and to address it, the team drafted Joshua Garnett and brought in Zane Beadles. The question now becomes – is that enough?

The projected starting unit – very much subject to change – is stalwart Joe Staley at left tackle, Garnett and left guard, Daniel Kilgore at center, Beadles at right guard, and last year’s seventh round pick Trenton Brown at right tackle. Other than the two new guards, it’s the same unit that had San Francisco’s quarterbacks running for their lives last season. Which begs the question – should the team pursue free agent tackle Eugene Monroe.

It was a somewhat surprising development when the Baltimore Ravens cut Monroe loose. Some say it had everything to do with his marijuana advocacy. Others say it had to do with Baltimore not wanting to continue paying a guy who couldn’t stay healthy and on the field a lot of money. Either way, the net result is the same, Monroe is a free agent, able to peddle his wares to the highest bidder.

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But rather than jumping on the first opportunity that arises, Monroe is taking a wait and see approach. He’s letting the process play out and is looking for the right situation for him – as is his right to do.

"“I’m waiting on the best situation for me. What that looks like, time will tell. I’ve been playing in this league for a long time, successfully so, especially when I’ve been healthy. I’m in no rush, but I’m certainly very respectful of the opportunity that I’ve been presented with. By no means am I purposely dragging anyone along. However, I’m going into my eighth year in the NFL, and I want to make a wise decision.”"

Depending on which reports you want to believe, the Giants, Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers have all been in contact with Monroe – and Monroe has declined everybody but Seattle to this point – though they have said they aren’t signing him as of now. The main bone of contention – again, depending on which reports you choose to believe – is that he is refusing a switch from left to right tackle.

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With Monroe sitting back and waiting for the right opportunity, the 49ers have the chance to potentially sweeten the deal a bit. With roughly $49 million in cap space as of right now, the team can afford to pay him. But they could also potentially open up the left tackle spot if Staley agrees to move to the right side of the line.

With Monroe on one side and Staley on the other, it’s a move that could potentially bolster an offensive line that desperately needs it. It could potentially help breath some life into an offensive unit that ranked 29th in passing offense and 21st in rushing offense last season.

This is not to say that Monroe comes without some concerns though. Over the past four seasons, he’s had a problem staying healthy, missing 32 total games over that span. However, when he’s healthy and 100 percent – as he says he is now – Monroe is absolutely one of the better tackles in the league.

Monroe is without a doubt, the best tackle still on the open market. And the 49ers could absolutely use a big upgrade along the offensive line. It would be nice to see the quarterbacks get a little bit of time after taking the snap, as well as the running backs with a little bit of actual running room.

The offensive line didn’t come close to getting it done last year, but Monroe could potentially help them improve upon the plethora of significant statistical totals that ranked near the bottom of the league last season.

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San Francisco needs some help on the line. There is no doubt about that. And it would behoove GM Trent Baalke and HC Chip Kelly to do whatever it took, move heaven and earth if they had to, and throw out whatever persuasive sales pitches they have in their pockets to bring Monroe to the San Francisco.