Pro Bowl guards aren’t usually just hanging out, waiting for an offer to play.
Yet that’s the case right now with Evan Mathis, a two-time Pro Bowler who was released this offseason by the Philadelphia Eagles in a cost-cutting move. Mathis, a 10-year veteran who’s 33 years old, is a 6-foot-5, 304-pounder out of Alabama who’s been an NFL starter since he was drafted in the third round by Carolina in 2005.
Now, Mathis – who’s just been selected to consecutive Pro Bowls – is just waiting for a call.
The 49ers, apparently, are one of the teams with his phone number and an interest.
According to John Clayton of ESPN.com, the Niners, Dolphins, Chiefs and Colts have discussed making an offer to Mathis. San Francisco is under its salary cap number for 2015, so could be in position to make a move if it decides it’s necessary.
Certainly, the 49ers’ offensive line is a bit in doubt after the departures of starting guard Mike Iupati and starting right tackle Anthony Davis in recent months. One scenario could include sliding right guard Alex Boone to right tackle and bringing in Mathis to play guard.
This week, Mathis told CBS Sports Radio that he expects negotiations with teams to “ramp up” soon.
“Exactly what my options are aren’t as clear as they will be in a week or two,” he said. But, he added tht he’s being patient. Training camps haven’t yet opened, so he isn’t worried.
“I haven’t missed anything,” he said. “There’s no rush at all.”
As David Fucillo of SB Nation noted this week, Mathis could be a good fit for a short-term deal to solidify the lineup and also bring a skillset that fits San Francisco. Mathis has been good in Philadelphia’s zone-blocking scheme, and the 49ers this season are expected to incorporate more zone blocking into their playbook.
How good is Mathis? The analytic website Pro Football Focus graded Mathis as the No. 1 guard in the NFL over the past two seasons.
Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson told Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar in June that Mathis “Is consistently one of the best performers in the game in the trenches and, despite his age, is showing no signs of slowing down.”
The 49ers, however, could decide to stand pat with the talent they have, especially if Mathis’ price tag proves too high. Young players such as Brandon Thomas and Marcus Martin (if he loses the battle at center) could be plugged in at the guard spots with Boone moving out to tackle. Or Boone could remain at right guard with veteran Erik Pears or rookie Trent Brown – who looked promising this offseason – moving in to the spot at right tackle.