49ers Could Pursue Massive 1st-Round Bust to Fill ‘Biggest Weakness’

Mekhi Becton, a potential target for 49ers free agency.

Getty Mekhi Becton, a potential target for 49ers free agency.

When it comes to addressing the immediate future in 49ers free agency, it would be easy to focus on some of the splashier moves the team could make, whether it is a trade of star receiver Brandon Aiyuk, adding a star-level cornerback or swapping out defensive end Chase Young for a bigger-name pass-rusher. But if there’s a spot on the roster that most clearly needs some strengthening, it’s the offensive line.

Not the most exciting bunch to consider, true, but perhaps the best way for the 49ers to show long-term improvement.

As Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report wrote this week, looking at changes the 49ers could make heading into next season, “The 49ers’ biggest weakness is along the offensive line. Colton McKivitz has been a disappointment as Mike McGlinchey’s replacement at right tackle, while Spencer Burford has too often been a liability at right guard.”

While the general protection from the 49ers was solid last year, some of that can be chalked up to having excellent blockers at tight end (George Kittle) and fullback (Kyle Juszczyk). Individually, the holes were obvious. Left tackle Trent Williams rated as the No. 2 tackle in the NFL last year at PFF, but his counterpart, McKivitz, was just 47th.

Knox brought up one possibly attainable name as a target: Massive 363-pound Jets tackle Mekhi Becton.

49ers Free Agency Should Address O-Line

Much was expected out of Becton when he was selected by New York with the 11th overall pick in 2020 NFL draft. But a fractured kneecap in Becton’s surgically repaired right knee kept that from happening, an injury that Becton blamed on the Jets. Becton played one game between his rookie season and 2023, both because of injury and poor conditioning.

But after declining his 2024 option, the Jets actually got a healthy, decent season out of Becton, as he rejoined the Jets’ starting group for 16 games—he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 10 and missed all of Week 11. Though he has been a draft bust to this point, he is only 24 and still has upside, even if he needs to increase his professionalism.

That could make him a 49ers-type player, though, as Knox pointed out: “The 49ers do have a track record of taking fliers on former first-round picks.

“Given that track record, the 49ers might consider making a trade play for offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, who has largely disappointed with the New York Jets.”

Mekhi Becton Wants to Play Left Tackle

But with Williams ensconced at left tackle, convincing Becton to go back to right tackle would be a challenge. He did so to start 2023, for two games, but played left tackle the rest of the way.

Becton injured his right knee during the 2021 season and as he came back for the 2022 season, the Jets wanted to shift him to right tackle and allow George Fant to play left tackle, which had been Becton’s position all his life.

Becton said he warned the Jets that his right knee would be under too much pressure playing right tackle, and he should stay at left tackle. After coaches did not listen to him, he said, he suffered another injury to the right knee, a fractured kneecap.

“I’m a natural left tackle. I’m not a right tackle,” Becton said last offseason. “I don’t care what people say. I know I’m going to go out there and prove it. People know what I can do as a rookie, and I’m better now than I was then.”


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