After losing a pair of former starters, Mike McGlinchey and Daniel Brunskill, in free agency, general manager John Lynch has struck a deal with Jon Feliciano to become the San Francisco 49ers‘ new utility linemen, according to Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team.
Originally drafted by the then-Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft, Feliciano played four seasons with Derek Carr and company before signing with the Buffalo Bills to play guard in Sean McDermott’s offense. From there, Feliciano followed general manager Joe Schoen from Buffalo to New York, where he became the Giants’ center in his eighth professional season.
Though his signing hasn’t officially been announced by the Niners just yet, Feliciano brings a wealth of experience to San Francisco, with 1,519 career snaps at right guard, 689 career snaps at left guard, and 1,283 career snaps at center, according to Pro Football Focus. Depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out, Feliciano could theoretically play a similar role to Brunskill in 2022, or even start at right guard full-time should Lynch decide to play Spencer Burford at right tackle, the position he played in college and was projected at in the NFL by talent evaluators like Lance Zierlein.
Jon Feliciano Brings Versatility to the San Francisco 49ers
Asked about whether or not the 49ers signing Feliciano could signify a decision to move Burford from right guard to right tackle and play the former Giant at right guard, David Lombardi, a San Francisco beat writer for The Athletic, voiced a vote of no confidence, suggesting that the deal could instead have more to do with improving depth where it matters most.
“No, they are fortifying depth on the interior,” Lombardi wrote. “It’s been several years since Feliciano put up a full season/those numbers at RG. More than anything, the 49ers needed an O-lineman they could plug in anywhere following Brunskill’s departure.”
Is Lombardi’s assumption correct? Did Feliciano sign up to become a utility reserve for the 49ers near the city where he started his professional football career, or do Kyle Shanahan and company have something bigger up their sleeve? Fans will have to wait to see if Lynch and Feliciano give a press conference to find out some more information.
Jon Feliciano Came Into his own Down the Stretch in NY
Discussing the news that Feliciano was leaving the Giants’ starting lineup to join a 49ers depth chart that already had names penciled in at starting left guard, right guard, and center, Chris Pflum of SB Nation’s Big Blue View explained how Feliciano was able to overcome some initial issues to become a key offensive weapon for New York.
“He dealt with a neck injury towards the middle of the season, missing the Week 12 game against the Cowboys, and rested in the middle of the starters in Week 18,” Pflum wrote. “While Feliciano got off to a rocky start as the Giants entire interior offensive line struggled to deal with pressure on the interior, he improved as he settled into his starting role.
“By the end of the year, Feliciano had claimed a place on the top 10 of ESPN’s pass block win rate among centers. Feliciano had a 95 percent win rate as a pass protector, and his loss adds another question to an interior offensive line that is once again in flux.”
With Jake Brendel re-signed on a four-year contract with a maximum contract value of $20 million, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, Feliciano likely won’t be starting at center unless the 49ers suffer an injury. Still, having a proven option behind Brendell should help to make Shanahan sleep easy at night, knowing the 49ers have veteran depth across the interior of their offensive line.