The San Francisco 49ers might be needing some long-term interior linemen sooner rather than later. With starting right guard Alex Boone being a possible hold out heading into training camp later this month and starting left guard Mike Iupati entering the final year of his contract, there is a bit of uncertainty at those positions. Oklahoma left guard Adam Shead could be the 49ers’ solution in next year’s draft.
Shead offers two qualities that the 49ers value a great deal. The first is very good arm length. This allows him to keep defenders at a distance and away from his body. His upper body strength coupled with this arm length also allows Shead to deliver very good initial contact.
The other quality is plenty of game experience. Shead has 28 career starts at left guard and plays like you would expect a veteran to play. He is a smart player who isn’t fooled on stunts and doesn’t miss assignments.
If Boone decides to hold out and things end badly between him and the 49ers, they have Daniel Kilgore waiting in the wings to fill in. However, there’s a good chance they won’t have the money to re-sign their other guard, Iupati. Their option for another guard is either Joe Looney, who has almost no experience, or to convert 2014 NFL draft pick Brandon Thomas from tackle to guard, as they did with Boone three years ago.
If the 49ers don’t see those two options as viable, I expect them to target an interior linemen such as Shead in the mid-rounds of the 2015 draft. He would be a good fit overall and his style fits what the 49ers like to do on their offensive line. He needs to improve his pass blocking but his run blocking is very good. If he does end up on the 49ers, it would most likely be an immediate downgrade from Boone or Iupati, but Shead’s ceiling is just as high or higher than either.