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San Francisco 49ers
INSIDE SLANT

  Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel | Player Wire

  49ers still need to improve pass protection

With speedy Colin Kaepernick and athletic Blaine Gabbert taking all the snaps at quarterback last season, the San Francisco 49ers still ranked third in sacks allowed with 47.

The 49ers' new management, led by general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shahanan, had an off-season with several other areas needed addressing, so the concern about sacks received lttle attention.

Well, those two quarterbacks won't be sacked as 49ers, anyway, as they are gone. And the team imported Brian Hoyer, whose 2.8 sacks per start in 2015 the last season he started more than eight games tied for third-most in the league.

You might say it's a disaster waiting to happen.

You might also say at least it'll give the 49ers a focus when they inevitably have another high first-round pick next season.

Alas, the latter might not even be true. For all the work Lynch and Shanahan did in their initial efforts to revamp a 2-14 club upgrades are clearly visible in wide receiver depth, at least two linebacker spots and on the defensive line they still could use a top-five draft pick on a quarterback, wideout and shutdown corner ... and right tackle.

Right tackle is where the 49ers appear set to start Trent Brown, a seventh-round pick in 2015. They have imported Garry Gilliam from Seattle to provide competition.

"Competition brings out the best in everyone," Shanahan insisted. "There's a number of guys we're moving around."

Ah, quantity. It's at least a nice consolation prize for a unit seriously lacking in quality.

49ers coaches have been raving about left tackle Joe Staley all spring. He is the least of the unit's concerns.

Brown, guards Zane Beadles and Joshua Garnett, and center Daniel Kilgore return from last year's troubled line. Gilliam, guard Brandon Fusco and center Jeremy Zuttah were imported during the off-season, with only Zuttah, the projected starting center, expected to be a significant contributor.

Unfortunately for the 49ers, competition already has brought out the worst in the unit. After allowing a plethora of sacks during 11-on-11 drills at the final OTA, the club almost immediately announced the signing of undrafted offensive tackle Andrew Lauderdale, who was released by New Orleans.

It's the position into which you put yourself when you don't use any of your 10 draft picks on an offensive lineman.

Maybe next year.


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