There is no question that former San Francisco 49ers RT Anthony Davis left the team hanging when he announced his abrupt retirement AFTER the 2015 NFL Draft took place. A player in which the team traded up from the No. 13 overall selection to No. 11 with the Denver Broncos in the 2010 NFL Draft to secure his services, it was Davis who decided to hang up his cleats after only five seasons.
However, Davis has given settle hints about a possible comeback while many of his teammates believe the hype is true and that Davis will in fact return in time for the 2016 season. “He’ll be back,” said one 49ers player.
So the question remains, should Davis return next season, does that mean the right tackle position will be solidified? I believe so.
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I spoke with 49ers strength coach Mark Uyeyama and he always has good things to say about the Rutgers product. He has quick feet and is extremely athletic,’ Uyeyama told me. So to think that the 49ers would target a right tackle in next year’s draft despite Davis’ return would be a head-scratcher at best, as T Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame) and T Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss) are no shoe-in plug-and-play starters at the NFL level.
Since 2013, no offensive tackle drafted in the top 15 have made any Pro Bowls nor garnered any All-Pro recognition as T Eric Fisher (No. 1), T Luke Joeckel (No. 2), T Lane Johnson (No. 4), T D.J. Fluker (No. 11), T Greg Robinson (No. 2), T Jake Matthews (No. 6), and T Taylor Lewan (No. 11) have all been huge disappointments up to this point.
Which brings me to my point that if the 49ers have a top five selection in next year’s draft — that player better be a Pro Bowl talent, as anything less would be considered a huge disappointment.
But then again, the 49ers could always look to free-agency to shore up depth at right tackle and one player who I believe the team should target is Cleveland Browns RT Mitchell Schwartz.
The Cal product would instantly be a plug-and-play starting caliber tackle while also filling a need. Not to mention, he has the football savvy to adapt to any offensive scheme, Schwartz would be a nice addition as he makes his way back to the Bay Area as he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free-agent at season’s end.
At 6-5, 318, Schwartz would definitely give both Davis and RT Erik Pears a run for their money, while providing their quarterback whoever that is with two solid bookend tackles for the foreseeable future as LT Joe Staley is signed via the 2019 season.
Aside from Schwartz’s upside it’s his durability that displays his most value as he has yet to miss an NFL game as he’s started all 48 regular-season games while not missing an offensive snap in this first three NFL seasons and counting.
If the 49ers target Schwartz in fee-agency, they can then turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball with their first-round pick, which is where I see the greatest upside in this year’s draft as I have the team targeting ILB Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame.
With the 49ers trying to crawl their way back into the NFC West hunt, it won’t come easy as they face the No. 1 seed Arizona Cardinals.