Does Joshua Garnett have a future with the 49ers? Or, has his window of opportunity with the team come and gone?
Garnett, a 49ers’ first-round pick out of Stanford in 2016, was supposed to be a building block for the offensive line, but has hardly been on the field since his rookie season. He spent all of 2017 on injured reserve, then lost a training-camp duel with Mike Person for the job at right guard in 2018 and played in just seven games and only 59 offensive snaps.
Garnett signed a four-year deal worth as much as $9.3 million in 2016, and is signed through the 2019 season, when he’s due to get about $2.96 million. If the 49ers decide he’s no longer in their plans, however, they could release him and take a hit against the salary cap of $1.24 million.
So what will the 49ers do?
Right guard is a position that seems ripe for an upgrade. The veteran Person can become a free agent soon, so San Francisco could move away from both Person and Garnett and bring in a veteran or pick up a guard in the draft.
Or, the 49ers might find a trading partner for Garnett, a team that still believes his terrific career at Stanford, and his potential, are signs that he's worth giving a chance.
This week, in fact, Ben Cooper of the analytic website Pro Football Focus suggested Garnett could be one of several players on the 49ers roster who could be traded this offseason.
Wrote Cooper: “It’s hard to throw the bust label on a player who has barely played, but Garnett is certainly hovering around it.”
Cooper noted, too, that in playing 15 games as a rookie in 2016, Garnett struggled in pass protection, run blocking and with too many penalties – a bad combination.
Last season was disappointing, too, because Garnett worked through all of 2017 to reduce his body fat, increase his strength and be ready to make a big push to be a better fit for Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.
Now, it appears Garnett -- a holdover from the Trent Baalke regime -- is on the bubble. The 49ers could give him one more shot, or his time in the Bay Area could soon be over.