NFC West: Jon Runyan

49ers' situation at tackle appears dicey

October, 27, 2009
10/27/09
4:44
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Tony Pashos' season-ending shoulder injury leaves the 49ers with even fewer options at right tackle.

The 49ers placed him on injured reserve Tuesday. This probably forces Adam Snyder into a full-time role at right tackle, which makes Chilo Rachal a more prominent option at right guard.

Rachal has struggled badly this season. Coach Mike Singletary suggested Rachal might benefit from playing a little looser instead of worrying about making mistakes. It's tough to stop worrying about making mistakes when everyone keeps talking about those mistakes.

The 49ers' failure to address right tackle in the draft is hurting them now. I think the team made the right decision in drafting Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall choice. Third-round choice Glen Coffee also proved valuable this season when an injury sidelined Frank Gore.

The team signed veteran Marvel Smith as a fallback, but Smith's chronic back trouble forced him into retirement. Pashos was signed Sept. 7.

Finding a viable tackle in Week 8 isn't a realistic option. Jon Runyan remains available, presumably for a reason. He's 35 years old and coming off microfracture knee surgery. That's a bad combination.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Greg from Seattle writes: Hey Mike, I enjoyed your piece on Crabtree. Any plans to delve into the issues Deion Sanders' statements raised for the league? Sorry to keep harping on this, but I don't see how the league can just brush this off. Deion's statements were not just inappropriate, but indicated cheating had occurred. The league needs to either find out if something happened and punish the teams responsible, or chastise Sanders.

Mike Sando: The 49ers should press the issue if they feel as though tampering occurred. Instead, they denied a key component of Sanders' statement, the part about two teams supposedly contacting the 49ers about a possible trade.

To review, Sanders said on NFL Network, "There have been two teams that have contacted the San Francisco 49ers desiring a trade and who will pay this kid and he knows that."

Any team interested in trading for Michael Crabtree would also be willing to pay Crabtree. That much is a given. The deadline for trading Crabtree this season passed Aug. 14. Why, then, would any teams be calling the 49ers about a possible trade after that date? Why would teams be telling Crabtree they would be willing to pay him if those same teams could not immediately acquire him?

The 49ers are not helpless in this situation. If they feel as though tampering has occurred, they should present evidence to the league and push for an investigation.


Sergio from San Jose writes: Can you please give the 49ers the number to the Broncos? Let's trade problems and see if Brandon Marshsall wants to play here. Unlike Michael Crabtree, at least he's a proven receiver.

Mike Sando: The 49ers cannot trade rights to Crabtree until the spring. That would temper the Broncos' interest, to say the least.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Available Veteran Tackle Age 2008 Starts
Jon Runyan
35 16
Mark Tauscher
32 13
Kwame Harris
27 11
Levi Jones
29 10
Jonas Jennings
31 2
Jason Whittle
34 2
Fred Miller
36 0
Wayne Gandy
38 0
Chad Slaughter
31 0

The 49ers confirmed tackle Marvel Smith's retirement Saturday morning. What now?

Adam Snyder is still the starter on the right side. That was not going to change even if Smith tried to continue playing despite back trouble.

Depth is the problem and this situation was predictable, even likely, given what we knew about Smith's health and how the 49ers' neglected to draft a tackle or sign a younger veteran in free agency (as someone suggested they should).

None of this will matter much if Snyder returns from his knee injury to start most of the games. The 49ers could then try to develop Alex Boone and/or target a tackle in the draft. Their thinking in drafting Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall selection hasn't worked out as anticipated so far, but I think the reasoning was sound and No. 10 was too early to select one of the remaining tackles. Right tackle is not a premium position.

The chart might look familiar. It's the same one I ran when the Seahawks found out Walter Jones needed another surgery.

Some have asked why I suggested former Eagles tackle Jon Runyan as a possibility for the 49ers without mentioning the Seahawks as a logical destination as well. Runyan is strictly a right tackle. Seattle has two players able to start at right tackle (Sean Locklear and Ray Willis) but only one player (Locklear) able to start at left tackle. Adding Runyan would not improve the Seahawks' depth at left tackle, which is their position of need while Jones is unavailable.

The 49ers need a right tackle for insurance. Runyan is coming off knee surgery. He might not be ready right away. The 49ers do not need him right away. They need insurance. I have no idea if Runyan would even consider moving across the country. But when I think of tough, physical tackles in the 49ers' mold, Runyan comes to mind.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

William writes via Facebook: Jon Runyan, baby. Give that man a call, Niners.

Mike Sando: Runyan has started every game for the last 12 seasons, all with Philadelphia. He does remain unsigned. He is 6-foot-7, 330 pounds and 35 years old. If the 49ers were willing to take a chance on Marvel Smith, whose retirement the 49ers have confirmed, why not consider a far more durable player such as Runyan?

Runyan is coming off microfracture knee surgery seven months ago. He received medical clearance to play Monday. The Eagles could have interest in re-signing him. Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News has the details.

Runyan would presumably prefer remaining in Philadelphia. He would presumably want to start. The 49ers have been happy with Adam Snyder at right tackle. Still, landing a player with Runyan's credentials would certainly help their depth up front. Runyan's mentality would also fit with the 49ers.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Available Veteran Tackle Age 2008 Starts
Jon Runyan
35 16
Mark Tauscher
32 13
Kwame Harris
27 11
Levi Jones
29 10
Jonas Jennings
31 2
Jason Whittle
34 2
Fred Miller
36 0
Wayne Gandy
38 0
Chad Slaughter
31 0

Jesse asks via Facebook what the Seahawks can do to improve their situation at offensive tackle. He wants to see a list of available free agents.

Mike Sando: The best way to upgrade this situation is to welcome back Walter Jones from knee surgery and push him into the lineup early in the season.

The Seahawks could stand to add a veteran tackle as insurance. They cannot assume Jones will come back and play at a high level. They cannot even assume Ray Willis will make it through a full season at right tackle, in my view. Willis has been dealing with knee pain. It's apparently nothing major, but if he's limping in August -- and he was on the sideline Saturday night -- how will he feel 10 starts into the season? Seems like a reasonable question.

Willis has started 10 games in his career, all last season. The other starting tackle, Sean Locklear, has missed at least four games to injury in two of the last three seasons.

The good, healthy NFL offensive tackles are under contract. The list of available tackles includes Wayne Gandy, Fred Miller, Jon Runyan, Jason Whittle, Mark Tauscher, Jonas Jennings, Levi Jones, Chad Slaughter and Kwame Harris. The chart shows their ages and number of starts last season.

Gandy was with Seahawks coach Jim Mora in Atlanta, but he is also 38 years old. The Seahawks had conversations with Levi Jones' agent earlier in the offseason. Tauscher and Runyan are veteran right tackles. Jennings' injury issues make him a high-risk option. Harris was with Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp in Oakland last season.

Roided-out NFC West rosters: Week 20

January, 16, 2009
1/16/09
4:36
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

We've come to that time in the week where we take a (much) closer look at the teams in this division through our latest roided-out NFC West rosters. Download here.

With the Cardinals facing Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game, I threw in an Eagles roster featuring 25 columns of information for 146 players. Like the rosters for NFC West teams, this one includes players currently on the roster, players signed to future contracts, players on injured reserve and players no longer with the organization.

A few roster-related notes about the Cardinals and Eagles, based on information I track:

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams face an extremely tough draw in their opening-week matchup with the Eagles in Philadelphia. These franchises have very little in common.

The Eagles' roster features 33 players drafted by the organization, one behind league leaders Chicago and Green Bay. The Rams have only 23 of their own draft choices. Holding onto one's own draft choices isn't necessarily a good thing, but failing to hold onto them often reflects poor drafting, poor management, frequent scheme changes and overall instability.

By my count, 18 Rams players entered the NFL as draft choices for other teams, about four more than the league average. The Eagles' corresponding number is seven. The low figure reflects a disciplined approach to roster management.

For more on the Eagles, pick up a copy of Philly's 25-category roided-out roster. Five quick notes on the team I picked to represent the NFC in the next Super Bowl:

  • The Eagles' Jon Runyan is one of the biggest -- and oldest -- starting right tackles in the league. Pass protection is not his specialty. The Rams will have to keep this game close to free up their pass rush. If they do, a healthy Leonard Little could give Runyan some problems.
  • On the other side, Eagles left tackle Tra Thomas welcomes Rams first-round draft choice Chris Long to the NFL. Long fashions himself as a technician, but he's still making the adjustment from 3-4 to 4-3 defensive end.
  • Quarterback Donovan McNabb hasn't started 16 games in a season since 2003, but he's been at his best in September. McNabb has thrown 28 touchdowns with only four interceptions in September games over the last four seasons. The numbers dip to 25 touchdowns with 13 interceptions in October, 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions in November and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions in December (all since 2004).
  • Brian Westbrook has 2,550 yards rushing and 167 receptions over the last two seasons. Rams middle linebacker Will Witherspoon finds himself overshadowed in a division featuring Lofa Tatupu and Patrick Willis. Westbrook presents his greatest challenge of the season. No other back on the Rams' schedule threatens a defense in so many ways.
  • That note about McNabb not finishing seasons as strong (if at all) casts doubt on my Super Bowl prediction. At least I took the Chargers to win (not that San Diego has any injury concerns entering this season, come to think of it).
The Rams had to grimace when they saw the 2008 schedule for the first time. This was a fragile team coming into the offseason, to the point that coach Scott Linehan wanted to win preseason games for momentum. A victory over the Eagles in the opener would represent a giant step forward for the Rams under Linehan, but it's a tough draw.

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