Doug Williams

Niners Offensive Line Coach Still Believes in Garnett

He says former first-round pick is healthy and 'explosive' and will get an opportunity to win a starting job in training camp

As the 49ers head toward training camp in July, Joshua Garnett’s place on the roster is shaky.

The former first-round pick out of Stanford has been plagued by injuries and long ago lost his starting job. Some analysts believe he’s in danger of being cut this summer.

Some in the organization still believe in him, including head coach Kyle Shanahan, who told reporters in February that if Garnett can stay healthy, he can compete for a starting guard position with current starters Laken Tomlinson and Mike Person.

"I’m just really hoping that he can come back and get in a full OTAs, a full training camp," said Shanahan. "With his ability and if he can get in the practice time, then he should have a good chance to help us."

Also in Garnett’s corner is 49ers offensive line coach John Benton.

In recent comments to David Lombardi of The Athletic, following the recent full-squad minicamp, Benton said, "Josh is a legitimate, 100 percent contender" for a starting role.

Added Benton: "He’ll get every opportunity again. He’s just had such bad luck with injury. None have been too serious, but they last a legitimate amount of time."

The Niners declined this spring to extend Garnett’s rookie contract to a fifth year, so this summer’s training camp will be Garnett’s last shot at fulfilling the potential the team saw in him when it moved up into the late first round to select him out of Stanford. Last season, with the emergence of Person as a starter, Garnett played just 59 snaps.

Benton, however, promises to give Garnett one more chance. At least, so far this offseason, he's stayed healthy.

"He’s a talented guy, and it’s a shame he’s had to battle through these hardships," said Benton. "He’s one of our most explosive guys, along with the athleticism, so I would love to see Josh put together a string and make a run at winning one of those jobs."

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