GM profiling: McCloughan and the tackles

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers could use an offensive tackle even after picking up Marvel Smith in free agency. Would they select one with the 10th overall choice?

I discussed the matter with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. while also researching how 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan's teams have valued offensive tackles in the draft since 1994. The chart shows the tackles McCloughan's teams have drafted, with a few notes worth factoring into your thinking:

  • Aaron Taylor was a college tackle who wound up playing guard.

  • Ross Verba played guard most of his career.

  • Sean Locklear was a potential guard prospect who has become a tackle.

  • Adam Snyder, a third-round choice in 2005, has played some tackle, but I left him off the list because guard is his natural position.

The chart shows McCloughan's teams drafting 10 tackles, half between the 16th and 30th overall choices. In some cases, McCloughan's teams drafted tackles as early as they could have drafted them (his teams weren't holding the 10th pick every year, obviously).

But if we consider where the 49ers drafted starting left tackle Joe Staley -- 28th overall in 2007 -- we might wonder whether the team would target a right tackle 18 spots earlier. Would the value line up given that teams generally value left tackles higher than right tackles? With that in mind, I have wondered whether any tackle the 49ers drafted at No. 10 would have to project as a starter on the left side, with Staley eventually moving back to the right side. That might be overthinking things, but it's a consideration.

Eugene Monroe, Jason Smith, Andre Smith and Michael Oher seem to be the four highest-rated offensive tackles in this draft. Oher appears more likely than the others to remain available at No. 10, although "seems" is a key word these days.

This is where my conversation with Muench might help provide additional perspective. A few of his thoughts:

  • "I just keep staring at Joe Staley. I love where they got him. I think Oher is a reach at 10, to be honest with you, and a fairly big reach. I think they really want a tackle, though."

  • "We had [pass-rusher] Aaron Maybin going [to the 49ers at 10] for the longest time. He is slipping a little bit and I am not sure why. The guy doesn't look very intimidating. He is 249 pounds. He does not have crazy off-the-charts numbers. But on film, it's tough not to recognize how quick he is around the corner."

  • "I have too many questions about Oher's ability to pick up the blitz. They have quarterback issues. Is he a first-round tackle? Yes. I think he is a late first-round pick. Joe Staley was a good pick there and I think Oher would be a good pick in that later range."

  • "If you don't like Aaron Maybin, you try to trade out of that pick. We changed it to Oher in our latest mock and I get it. He is physically capable of stepping in as a starter right away. The concern is, mentally, is he ready? I think he will eventually get it. [Opponents] will play games with you. Corner blitzes, outside linebacker blitzes. Five-technique against a 3-4 defense, like San Diego, he is lined up against a defensive end right over his head. That defensive end shoots inside, the outside linebacker comes off the edge. Is he going to pick up the right guy?"

  • "I have some concerns of [Oher] at left tackle. He is only 6-foot-5. His length. That being said, I think he can be a starting left tackle. He moves his feet really well for a guy his size. You have to play him at right tackle for now."