With backup guard Ross Reynolds adding to the San Francisco 49ers concerning list of offensive line injuries, it may be time for outside help.
After all, the team has already brought in the likes of Hroniss Grasu and Shon Coleman to bolster the line after the news that center Weston Richburg is unlikely to play the first six weeks of the season, as well as Spencer Long retiring shortly after joining the team.
When you throw in the fact that Richburg’s backup Ben Garland is suffering from a sprained ankle, things do look a little dicey.
While Grasu is certainly a possible option for the team going forward, his track record isn’t especially encouraging. However, the resume of released Minnesota Vikings guard Josh Kline is fairly impressive, and would be a perfect fit for the 49ers amid an offensive line injury wave.
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Kline’s Versatile NFL Career
Like many of the NFL’s successful interior offensive lineman today, Kline can rotate around both guard and center positions. But in terms of his resume, the thirty-year-old’s career is highlighted by his time at both guard spots.
After going undrafted out of Kent State, Kline joined the New England Patriots in 2013 where he started just one game and made seven total appearances.
2013 and 2014 were build-up for Kline as he took on a bigger and bigger role in New England, eventually starting the Patriots’ 45-7 AFC Championship win in the postseason of the 2014 season.
Kline impressed enough to fully take on the starting left guard position for New England in 2015, starting a total of 15 games in his final season under head coach Bill Belichick.
Kline’s rise through the ranks with the Patriots earned him his second contract with the Tennessee Titans, where he was a mainstay, starting 48 of a possible 50 games.
After Tennessee fell short against the Patriots in 2018, Kline and the Titans went their separate ways, which brought Kline to Minnesota and a 15-start season for the Vikings, including the NFC Divisional Round that saw San Francisco beat Minnesota 27-10.
Kline’s Fit with the Vikings
If you can’t beat them, join them? Kline could consider that if the 49ers decided to reach out, although the former Viking would be considered a more expensive option than maybe some of the less experienced players in free agency.
However, Kline’s track record is so impressive that San Francisco should at least mull over the idea. With the plethora of injuries and other issues at the interior line positions, Kline would be a rock-solid option that the 49ers could count on early and late in the season.
While Kline could play just about anywhere inside, starting right guard Daniel Brunskill is more noted for his snapping ability, and would likely be expected to move inwards to center if this type of deal were to happen.
And considering that Brunskill was rated considerably better than Richburg last season, this could be a situation where the 49ers would just commit to Kline at right guard, where he’s started 63 games over the past four years.
The team would have to get a little creative to sign Kline, who would be available for probably somewhere between $2 and $4 million, shoring up the offensive line would have to be worth it.
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.