There will continue to be a lot of discussion this offseason about the 49ers’ offensive line. The Colts and Jets, playing this afternoon in the AFC Championship game, are proof that there are a lot of different ways to construct an offensive line.
The Colts’ line is comprised of a bunch of castoffs. The Colts have tried unsuccessfully to upgrade via the draft. In 2007 and ’08, the Colts invested second-round picks in tackle Tony Ugoh (they traded their first pick in ’08 to the 49ers to move up to get him) and guard Mike Pollak..
But Ugoh and Pollak have been disappointments. Pollak lost his starting job to an undrafted first-year player. And Ugoh was beaten out by unheralded fourth-year player Charlie Johnson at left tackle.
Colts offensive line
LT Charlie Johnson: Sixth-round pick, 2006
LG Ryan Lilja: Claimed off waivers from Chiefs, 2004
C Jeff Saturday: Undrafted free agent, 1999
RG Kyle DeVan: Undrafted free agent, 2008
RT Ryan Diem: Fourth-round pick, 2001
Behind this line, Peyton Manning was sacked an NFL-low 13 times this season.
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Meanwhile, the Jets have invested a lot in their offensive line. The Jets have drafted D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold in the first rounds of recent drafts. They paid big money in free agency to acquire proven veterans Alan Faneca (Steelers) and Damien Woody (Lions).
Jets offensive line
LG Alan Faneca: Signed as
C Nick Mangold: First-round pick, 2006
RG Brandon Moore: Undrafted free agent, 2003
RT Damien Woody: Signed as
The Jets ranked seventh in the league with a 4.5-yard average per rush attempt to support rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was the league’s 28th-rated passer.
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Since the 2005 arrival of Mike Nolan and personnel chief Scot McCloughan, the 49ers focused those first four years on the offensive line more than any time in the franchise’s draft history.
From 1977 to 1997 — when the 49ers were winning five Super Bowls — the organization spent just four picks in the first two rounds of the draft on offensive linemen. Those selections were:
1979: G Walt Downing, second round.
1982: T Bubba Paris, second round
1987: T Harris Barton, first round; and G Jeff Bregel, second round
The 49ers did not take another offensive lineman in the first two rounds again until 1998, when Jeremy Newberry was chosen in the second round.
Since 2005, the 49ers have selected David Baas (second round, 2005), Joe Staley (first round, 2007) and Chilo Rachal (second round, 2008) within the first two rounds of the draft. There’s a strong chance they’ll look to the offensive line again this year.
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