San Francisco 49ers

49ers' best draft fits: Next up, guard

Austin Corbett, who played at Nevada, compares favorably to another former Wolf Pack lineman, Joel Bitonio, and the 49ers recently sent their offensive line coach to Nevada to work him out.
Austin Corbett, who played at Nevada, compares favorably to another former Wolf Pack lineman, Joel Bitonio, and the 49ers recently sent their offensive line coach to Nevada to work him out. AP

This item is part of a series on the positions the 49ers will look to fill in the upcoming draft and the players that best fit those spots. They will be published in order of need.

Next up: guard

Description: Simply put, Kyle Shanahan wants interior linemen who can move. The outside zone-running scheme that is a staple of his offense requires nimble offensive linemen who can get down the line of scrimmage quickly. The Cleveland Browns, for example, used a second-round pick on guard Joel Bitonio in 2014 when Shanahan was their offensive coordinator. Bitonio weighed around 300 pounds at the time and stood out for his athleticism, including running his 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds. On the other hand, Shanahan's Washington team used a second-round pick on Josh LeRibeus in 2012 and LeRibeus wasn't nearly as athletic. Which is to say, figuring out what Shanahan likes isn't as easy as checking weigh-in results and scouting-combine test scores. "Everyone thinks we like small guards," he said on March 1. "I just like people who can move. If you're 400 pounds and can move, I'd rather have that guy than the 300-pound guy who can move the same. The problem is that most really heavy guys can't move."

Who's there now: The three top candidates to start at the two guard spots are Laken Tomlinson, Jonathan Cooper and Joshua Garnett. All are former first-round picks. Cooper, who will compete initially at right guard, is the only one who was considered an athletic player entering his draft although Garnett has lost a considerable amount of weight since last season and will be around 300 pounds when the offseason program begins next week. Zane Beadles and Erik Magnuson are similar in that they are best at guard but in a pinch can play all five spots along the offensive line.

Best fits:

* Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame. He's considered the best offensive lineman in the draft and most observers feel he's a shoo-in to be a Top 10 pick. It's hard to see Nelson getting past the Bears at pick No. 8 considering Chicago's offensive line coach, Harry Hiestand, coached Nelson the last four years at Notre Dame. Still, it's possible that the 49ers will have a shot at Nelson, who may be the best guard to come out of the draft in the last 10 years but who is not an exact fit for what the 49ers want at the position.

* Isaiah Wynn, Georgia. He had the requisite foot speed to play left tackle for the Bulldogs, but his squatty frame makes him a guard on the NFL level. Wynn will be long gone when the 49ers are scheduled to pick in the second round and only seems to be an option should the 49ers make a trade on Day 1.

* Austin Corbett, Nevada. He compares favorably to another former Wolf Pack lineman, Bitonio, and the 49ers recently sent their offensive line coach to Nevada to work him out. Corbett was athletic enough to excel at left tackle in college but probably will move to guard, like Bitonio did, in the NFL. He appears to be a legitimate candidate for the 49ers in the second round.

* Scott Quessenberry, UCLA. The 49ers also worked out Quessenberry, whose brother, David, is in the NFL and who figures to be a mid-round selection.

* Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech. A former defensive lineman who has very good strength and who -- in 2016, at least -- was very strong on the hoof.

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