With Jake Brendel an unrestricted free agent and not much depth after him, the San Francisco 49ers are facing a need to bolster an important trench area: Center.
But there’s a “freak” 323-pounder hailed as a possibility for the Niners — and one general manager John Lynch and the other 49er representatives attending the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine can look closely at this week.
Joe Tippmann from the University of Wisconsin has become the latest mock draft projection at No. 99 from Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire on USA Today on Saturday, February 25. But should the 49ers pivot to Tippmann, they’ll have a freakish center to work with.
Badgers Star Made ‘Freak List’ Before Playing Final CFB Season in Madison
Anyone who follows Badgers football is well aware of how much of a offensive lineman hotbed Madison, Wisconsin is for NFL teams. The Badgers have had an OL drafted in the last four draft classes.
The towering Badger, though, could be one who’s built different. In fact, Tippmann earned his way to The Athletic’s “Freak List” before the 2022 season by their college football insider Bruce Feldman — who annually highlights the athletes capable of blowing spectators away with their rare athleticism. And Tippmann is one with rare traits for a big man with Feldman writing back in August:
“The 6-6, 323-pounder made honorable mention All-Big Ten in his first season as a starter for the Badgers. Tippmann is a terrific combination of strength (635-pound back squat and 455-pound bench) and athleticism, clocking a 4.31 pro agility time and a 1.65 10-yard split, which would’ve been faster than any O-lineman at the NFL combine this year.”
Feldman additionally listed Tippmann as the 28th best “freak” for the upcoming season. He made exceptional use of his feet facing Big 10 competition:
But on this play versus Ohio State, Tippmann gives off the look he’s blocking to his left but instead reverses course and sprints right on the pull block. Safety Tanner McCalister clearly looks like he wasn’t expecting Tippmann to be trekking over and the result is a devastating pancake block:
One More Analyst Sees 49ers Fit for the Badger
Farrar isn’t the only one sold on the “freak” interior offensive lineman.
FanSided analyst Jeremy Wohlfart is another who sees the Badger as a fit for the Niners. He wrote:
“Joe Tippmann has been an impressive center for the Wisconsin Badgers with only one sack and five pressures conceded for the season.
Tippmann is scheme versatile and has had several impressive years with the Badgers. He looks like he can be a first-year starter at the next level with his impressive strength and athleticism. He’s good at the point of attack, and constantly gets the first punch in on his opponent.
Tippmann could stand to improve his leverage a bit in the NFL so defenders can’t get under his guard so much, and that’ll show against elite defensive tackles. But all in all, he’s an excellent and safe prospect for the next level.”
He added that Tippman’s lateral movement is his biggest asset and prime for the 49ers’ blocking scheme.
“In the Niners’ blocking scheme, the interior linemen don’t have to be maulers, but they do have to be able to get into position and open up the running lanes or stonewall the pass-rushers. Tippmann’s tape at Wisconsin has been exceptional in this regard, and as noted above he only gave up the single sack,” Wohlfart wrote.
Tippmann coming equipped with above average foot speed has to be music to the ears of Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan — the latter especially with his offense having zone read concepts and for taking in quick footed linemen in the past, a la last season’s rookies Spencer Burford and Jason Poe. The standout from Wisconsin could bring some rare freakish quickness to the front five.