The 49ers are already assured of adding an offensive lineman they rated as a second-round talent.
The 49ers were looking ahead last year when they selected guard Brandon Thomas in the third round, anticipating Mike Iupati would not return to the organization this season as a free agent.
General manager Trent Baalke said the club had Thomas rated as a second-round pick a year ago. But he dropped to the third round, where the 49ers selected him, after Thomas sustained an ACL tear during a pre-draft workout for the New Orleans Saints.
Thomas, who checked in at 6 foot 3 ¼, 317 pounds at last year's combine, played left tackle his junior and senior seasons at Clemson. He was particularly impressive working against No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney in their head-to-head matchup in Thomas’ senior season, Baalke pointed out.
Thomas spent his entire rookie season rehabbing the injury. And, now, he is expected to compete for a starting job at left guard after Iupati signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent.
“He was drafted for this in mind,” Baalke said of Thomas. “It’s obvious why we drafted him and were able to get him where we were because he was injured. We knew going into it was going to be a redshirt year for him.”
Thomas is able to work out without any restrictions and is expected to be on the field next week for the 49ers' first offseason minicamp.
“He looks very good at this point,” Baalke said. “He’s come off the knee injury very well. He’s strong. He’s moving extremely well. He’s a very engaged guy, very focused on what he needs to do and wants to do at this level. So we feel real good about him.”