It appears Laken Tomlinson finally has found a home and a position.
The former first-round pick in 2015 out of Duke spent just two seasons with the Detroit Lions before being traded to the 49ers last season just before the regular-season opener. Tomlinson wound up starting 15 games for the 49ers at guard. Going into this offseason, the 6-foot-3, 312-pounder figured to be in the hunt for a starting job against the likes of Joshua Garnett, who missed all of last season, former No. 1 pick Jonathan Cooper and Mike Person.
Now, however, it appears Tomlinson already has a starting spot at left guard secured. The Niners have signed Tomlinson to a three-year contract extension reported to be worth as much as $18 million.
“Laken is a very talented player who has improved consistently since joining the team one week before last year’s season opener,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a team statement released on the signing. “This offseason, his hard work and dedication paid off as he continued to progress and performed at a high level. We were confident we could work out a contract extension with Laken and we are fired up to get that done before training camp.”
Going into camp – scheduled to begin July 25 – the 49ers’ expected offensive line starters are Joe Staley at left tackle, Tomlinson at left guard, Weston Richburg at center and rookie No. 1 draft pick Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. Right guard will be a battle between Garnett, Cooper and Person, notes Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com.
Tomlinson was a consensus first-team All-America guard for Duke when he entered the NFL in 2015, but his play with the Lions was uneven. In 2017, however, his play with the 49ers improved, especially late in the season.
The analytic website Pro Football Focus graded Tomlinson’s play over the final two games of the regular season as being outstanding. Against the Rams in a season-closing 49ers victory, Tomlinson didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure and was named to PFF’s all-NFL team that week.
Wrote PFF after that game: “Tomlinson has had a largely uninspiring season with the 49ers, but he has ended it on a high note with back-to-back strong games. This was his best game of the season, even if it was against a Rams defense that was without its best player. Tomlinson didn’t allow any pressures in the game, marking the second game of the season with a perfect day in pass protection, and was impressive as a run blocker, putting down tape that will give him a shot at manning the position long term.”
That indeed has come to pass, with the announcement of his contract extension.