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Adam Snyder goes to division rival Arizona
The San Francisco 49ers offensive line suffered a big blow when starting right guard Adam Snyder signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
Snyder replaced Chilo Rachal after the third game of the year and started the remaining 13 games at right guard for the 49ers. He also started both of the 49ers' playoff contests. Once Snyder took over for the struggling Rachal, the 49ers offensive line immediately started to gel.
The line improved steadily throughout the remainder of the season, and Snyder was the missing piece of the puzzle. Snyder played seven years with the 49ers, and his versatility is something the team will certainly miss.
Snyder could play all five line positions and was effective in any role the 49ers put him in. The 49ers must now find a replacement at right guard for Snyder and also add depth because of the loss of Snyder's versatility.
Daniel Kilgore was a rookie in 2011 and played sparingly. Even if he's ready to step into the starting job, which would be a big jump for him, the 49ers will need to find a competent backup for the interior line.
If Chase Beeler, a practice squad player for most of 2011, looks like he can handle the starting center job, the 49ers' other option is to move Jonathan Goodwin from center to right guard.
The 49ers are also looking at free-agent guards, although with the prior signings of Carl Nicks, Ben Grubbs, Steve Hutchinson, Geoff Schwartz, Chad Rinehart and Evan Mathis, the pickings are getting increasingly slim.
The 49ers will continue their search and evaluation of the remaining free-agent guards available. However, with the talent pool still currently on the market, the 49ers will be hard-pressed to land a top-notch starter.
Even if a free agent does sign with the 49ers, look for them to select an interior lineman within the top four rounds of the draft. If they are unable to land a starting guard, then their first pick could very well be a right guard, if they find one that meets their needs.
The acquisition of a quality interior lineman, preferably a right guard, is the 49ers' top need at the present time.