Alex Smith has been hit by a lot of things throughout his career in the Scarlet and Gold—criticism from players and coaches alike, thunderous boos, and the constant reminder that a job is never secure in the NFL—but nothing has knocked him around as frequently as opposing defenders who have often paraded into the backfield like welcomed guests.
After addressing pleas for help at the receiver position, the San Francisco 49ers are now focused on bolstering their offensive line: a group that surrendered a league-high 44 sacks last season.
Adam Snyder, the starter at right guard, has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, and Chilo Rachal is all but gone, leaving a rather large void on the line. So, with free agency winding down, the 49ers must scour the draft for viable solutions.
The good news is this: this year's batch of linemen is deep with talent. Here are five prospects who provide an immediate upgrade and satisfy the team's adulation for toughness and versatility.
Cordy Glenn, Georgia
A massive 6'4" and 345 pounds, Glenn possesses surprising explosiveness off the line, though his footwork needs fixing. He has looked great during the pre-draft process and has the on-field production to back it up.
Some view him as an ideal guard, but game tape reveals a player who could be dominant as a tackle. Either way, he will be a Week 1 starter and early contributor.
Who is the top offensive lineman the 49ers should target?
Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
Very few tackles in the entire country had as good a season as Osemele in 2011. His size and length are what jump out first—he's listed at 6'6", 334 pounds and had the longest arms of any prospect at the NFL Scouting Combine—but his overall skills are what scouts fall in love with.
Osemele is the definition of versatile—he excels in both run blocking and pass protection, and has the quickness and strength to play anywhere on the line.
Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State
I've been high on Silatolu for awhile and watched his stock soar from unknown to a possible first-round selection. He's a small-school prospect with a game even bigger than his 6'4", 311-pound frame.
Silatolu really solidified himself as a top lineman with an impressive combine showing in Indianapolis. He showed great footwork, sound mechanics and a burst off the line of scrimmage en route to an 84.7 grade from NFL.com
The 49ers would be getting a steal should they land him in the second round.
Tony Bergstrom, Utah
Think Adam Snyder with a higher ceiling.
A standout during Senior Bowl practices, Bergstrom uses a nice blend of power and athleticism to win his battles. He's also very bright, with the ability to detect and capitalize on his opponent's weaknesses.
He was an All-Pac-12 first-team performer at left tackle for the Utes, but projects as a guard in the NFL. Bergstrom provides a real value in the mid to late rounds.
Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
First off, this guy's mullet alone is worthy of a draft pick.
A non-combine invitee (repeat after me: snub), Adcock looked terrific at his recent pro day. He moved around with fluidity and showed off some wheels, clocking a 5.22 40-yard dash.
Adcock has played each position on the line at Oklahoma State, but is best suited at right tackle or inside. He does his best in pass protection, yet is no slouch in run-blocking either. If he slides to the sixth or beyond, the 49ers will gladly swoop him up. He could be the biggest steal of the draft.
The 49ers can go a variety of directions with their first pick at No. 30 in the upcoming draft, but one thing is certain: Sooner or later, they need to improve an offensive line that has been a disappointment for the past decade. The above are realistic options available at each stage of the draft. And, as always, feel free to add to the list.