Sakamoto: 49ers’ Go All-In On Offensive Line In 5th Round, Likely Signals End For Erik Pears?

It all starts up front. A good offensive line is the glue to any offensive scheme. A running back needs holes to hit and a wide receiver needs allocated time to get open. This is why San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke drafted offensive lineman back-to-back.

Baalke has never drafted more than two offensive lineman in any given draft. That all changed with the 5th round selections of Georgia OT John Theus (No. 145) and Ole Miss OT Fahn Cooper (No. 174). At 6-6, 313, Theus has the movement skills needed for a zone blocking scheme. He’s smart, fundamentally sound, and agile. But I question his strength.

Theus only knocked out 19 reps of 225. That number is concerning. Theus will likely go heads up against 300-plus defensive lineman and his functional playing strength will need a facelift. But Theus believes coming to San Francisco fits his skill set. “With how big I am, I’m a good athlete. I can get in open space and I can run. I think I fit in well with the system,” Theus told beat writers shortly after his selection.


Just two picks later, Baalke used the shotgun approach that started in 2014 with the selection of Cooper. 49ers OLC Flaherty led positional drills at Ole Miss’ pro day while getting a first hand look of the Kent Hull Trophy winner (Ole Miss’ Top OL). At 6-4, 303, Cooper is a big-time player hailing from a big-time conference. Can he be a quality starting right tackle at the next level? That’s to be determined, as Baalke saw value in his versatility.

“He’s [Fahn Cooper] played inside. He’s played outside. So, the versatility at that point in the draft, that’s hard to find, guys that have multi-aligned and played as much football as they’ve played,” Baakle told a handful of beat writers.

Cooper also made the trip to 4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way as one of the 49ers 30 pre-draft visits. This leads me to believe that they are very comfortable with Cooper’s film-study and work ethic.

With the selection of Cooper, I think this signals the end for RT Anthony Davis. The 49ers 2010 1st round pick seemed to be upset with the team’s selections.”Que sera, sera,” Davis wrote on Twitter after the 49ers chose both Theus and Cooper in the 5th round. [The tweet was later deleted]

The 49ers typically keep no more than nine offensive lineman on the team’s 53-man roster. I believe those players will end up being OT Joe Staley, OT Trent BrownOT John TheusOG Zane Beadles, OG Joshua Garnett, OG Andrew TillerOG Fahn Cooper, C Daniel Kilgore and C Marcus Martin.

I can hear the Forever Faithful rejoice. No mention of T/G Erik Pears and OG Jordan Devey making the roster? I doubt they make the roster although I could be wrong.

The other two offensive lineman the team will wipe their hands clean of include G/C Ian Silberman and G Brandon Thomas. Both don’t fit Kelly’s system. “Brandon Thomas, we’ll see where he’s at with the new system, the new offense,” Baalke said.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.