49ers Sign Former Cardinals Lineman, Add New Offensive Line Coach

GETTY Offensive linemen Jawaan Taylor of Florida (right) and William Sweet of North Carolina compete in a drill during day two of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 1, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

After the opt outs of Shon Coleman and John Brendel, the San Francisco 49ers have now added two offensive lineman to the squad in an effort to up the competition at the spots.

After adding former Washington guard and center Spencer Long last week, San Francisco announced the addition of former Arizona Cardinal and University of North Carolina standout William Sweet to a one-year contract.

According to the official announcement, the 23-year-old rode the injury reserve for the Cardinals in his first year in the league last season after being waived in late August.

On the same day, the 49ers confirmed that the team was promoting John Foerster as an addition to John Benton, giving the former Miami Dolphins coach a position after bringing him on a consultant in 2018.

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Sweet’s Background

Coming out of North Carolina, Sweet was considered to be a decent NFL prospect, but the Jacksonville, Florida native didn’t earn a draft selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Sweet was an important part of the Tar Heels’ offensive line in the 2018 season, however, starting 10 games in Chapel Hill as North Carolina averaged 442.1 yards of total offense in his final year under head coach Mack Brown.

Sweet could have potentially been a higher-touted prospect after his time in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the offensive lineman suffered a torn ACL in the 2018 season, after starting three games for the Tar Heels.

However, despite not being drafted, Sweet made his way through cuts for the Cardinals before eventually hitting the injury reserve for the 2019 season.

It’s unlikely that the 23-year-old could compete for a starting spot this season, but it’s not unreasonable to think that he could not only make the squad, but also provide in-game contributions in his first year in Santa Clara, California.

Foerster’s Background

Somewhat infamously, Foerster lost his last job due a video that was leaked of the coach snorting cocaine while in his office back in 2017.

Since, the coach’s only position was a consultant back in 2018, but now head coach Kyle Shanahan has brought him in to work with Benton on the team’s offensive line, which will be entering an important year after the departure of two starters in Joe Staley and Mike Person.

According to NBC Sports’ report linked above, Foerster has since been in Alcoholics Anonymous to treat what is a decades-old abuse problem.

With 26 years of experience behind his belt, Foerster certainly has something to offer the 49ers, and with the trust of Kyle Shanahan, it seems like the 49ers are giving a fair shake to the former Dolphins coach ahead of the 2020 season.

Sweet’s Expectations within the 49ers

The main reason why Sweet is joining up with the 49ers is mostly due to the departure of Coleman rather than Brendel. Brendel was an interior lineman, and the addition of a proven starter in Spencer Long was to replace Brendel in his opt-out absence.

On the other hand, Coleman was expected to either compete or be the outright swing tackle for the 49ers in 2020, and one would expect Sweet, who has spent most of his career at tackle, to take on that role instead.

At 6’6″ and 313 pounds, Sweet is obviously a massive lineman, but has proven quickness from his time with North Carolina and could become head coach Kyle Shanahan lead guy for the swing tackle role.

That’s what’s most interesting about Sweet: his unknown factor.

There’s certainly a possibility that the 49ers could cut the tackle before the season even starts, but considering they have lost legendary tackle Joe Staley and also lost depth in the form of Coleman, there is also the very real possibility that Sweet is pushed into an important role in 2020, at least as a swing tackle, and potentially as a lead backup.

Sweet will have to compete with Justin Skule, Colton McKivitz and Jaryd Jones-Smith for a roster spot, but if Sweet proves that he’s a good fit and ready, he could push out Jones-Smith or even McKivitz, should the 49ers not be impressed by their fifth-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.

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Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.