Mike Person came to the 49ers' rescue last season to win the starting job at right guard. But does Person figure to be in the team’s long-term plans?
The veteran Person, 30, was signed last May as insurance after he played one season with the Indianapolis Colts. Before 2017 he played one season in Atlanta as the team’s starting center – when Kyle Shanahan was offensive coordinator – and was with the Rams and Seahawks from 2012 through 2014.
The former Montana State offensive lineman, who can play guard and center, is 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, and was picked up by the 49ers as a versatile insurance piece for the O-line last offseason. But Person beat out former first-round draft pick Joshua Garnett for the job at right guard and started all 16 games.
Now, headed into the offseason free-agent and draft periods, right guard seems the most likely position on the offensive line to upgrade for 2019. Weston Richburg is set at center (and could be much better after having to play through an injury almost all year), Laken Tomlinson is at left guard and the tackles are in good hands with Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey.
As the analytic website Pro Football Focus noted after the season, the 49ers’ offensive line was weak in the interior as Person and Tomlinson “combined to give up as many pressures (65) as their tackle duo.”
While Tomlinson was given a contract extension before the 2018 season, through 2021, Person’s one-year deal has now expired, and general manager John Lynch has indicated the team may seek an upgrade.
Lynch told reporters recently that Person was “valuable for us” and played well in 2018, but the 49ers might be “interested in trying to do something there” (at right guard) this offseason.
Several top-tier guards could be available as unrestricted free agents – including longtime Rams starter Rodger Saffold – and the draft class has several strong prospects that could be available after the first round, including Chris Lindstrom of Boston College, Erik McCoy of Texas A&M and Michael Jordan of Ohio State.
It’s possible, too, that the 49ers could re-sign Person because of his ability to play center and guard, as a backup, but still go after an upgrade in free agency or the draft.