Niners’ Trent Brown Has Evolved into Top-Tier Tackle

Will his season-ending injury cause 49ers to back off extending him a contract extension over this offseason?

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The 49ers are likely to have a top-five pick in the 2018 draft. What they do with that pick could depend a bit on right offensive tackle Trent Brown.

As Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com noted this week, Brown has had a solid season. He recently was named an alternate for the Pro Bowl and ranks 19th in the NFL for players at his position, according to the analytic website Pro Football Focus. That’s a great return on a seventh-round pick out of Florida from the 2015 NFL draft. The 6-foot-9, 376-pounder has improved steadily to give the 49ers a solid pair of tackles, along with veteran Joe Staley on the left side.

Brown has allowed just one sack, six quarterback hits and nine hurries on 415 pass-blocking stats in 2017, according to PFF.

But Brown will miss the final two games of this season because of a shoulder problem that will require surgery, and he is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018 season.

As Wagoner wrote, “Where he fits in the 49ers’ plans could depend largely on how he recovers from the shoulder surgery and his condition when he gets back.”

He’s expected to be able to resume full activities by the start of training camp next summer. But his physical status now comes with a question mark, so it will be interesting to see if the 49ers offer Brown a contract extension this offseason to lock him in for the future, or decide to wait – and perhaps use their top pick on an impact tackle to create competition and an insurance policy for 2018 and beyond.

Judging by what head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have said, Brown is very much in the team’s long-term plans, so that seems unlikely.

“Trent’s a very important part of this place and our futures,” Shanahan told Wagoner.

That seems especially true now with Jimmy Garoppolo has shown what he can do at quarterback. Protecting him and giving him time to throw will be extremely important. Brown has shown he can do that.

Veteran utility lineman Zane Beadles will start in Brown’s place the final two games.

The 49ers, 4-10, will host the 10-4 Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.

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