The 49ers already have starters set at both offensive tackle slots, with veteran Pro Bowler Joe Staley on the left side and young Trent Brown on the right.
But on Monday, the Niners made a move to strengthen the offensive line with a veteran NFL starter who’s had success on one of the NFL’s best teams.
Garry Gilliam, 26 – who has started 29 games the past two seasons at right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks – signed a one-year deal with San Francisco as a restricted free agent. The deal is worth $2.2 million according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
As Rapoport noted, the Seahawks now have five days to match the offer by the 49ers. If they don’t, Gilliam becomes a 49er and the Seahawks won’t receive any compensation.
Gilliam, a 6-foot-6, 303-pounder from Penn State who signed with Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2014, had an up-and-down season in 2016 for the Seahawks. After starting all 16 games in 2015 at right tackle for Pete Carroll’s team, Gilliam was set to become the team’s starting left tackle last season after the departure of Russell Okung. But Gilliam injured his knee in training camp, had a rough exhibition season and was moved back to right tackle, where he struggled and was benched for several games. He regained his starting role late in the year and played well, including in the postseason.
Then, according to Bob Condotta, who covers the Seahawks for the Seattle Times, the team brought in free agents Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi this offseason, meaning Gilliam may be squeezed out of the offensive line during training camp. So, moving on to the 49ers may make good sense for Gilliam.
Even if Gilliam doesn’t earn a starting spot in 2016 with the 49ers, he’ll provide quality play and depth on the line, especially if Brown falters or Staley is injured. As Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group notes, the only backups to the two at this point are John Theus and Norman Price. It’s expected, however, that the 49ers will bring in offensive line help during the draft that begins April 27.