Following the 2009 season, the 49ers desperately needed help to fix their porous offensive line. The team had two picks in the first round of the 2010 draft and used them to select tackle Anthony Davis (11th overall) and guard Mike Iupati (17th overall).
The picks were a homerun and helped transform the San Francisco offensive line to one of the best run blocking units in the NFL. While the powers that be decided to lock Davis up with a long term deal, they have taken a chance by letting Iupati hit free agency this year.
Iupati may very well get north of $7 million per year on the open market, and when you consider that Alex Boone is scheduled to make $3.7 million next year, it’s highly unlikely the 49ers will invest that much cash into their guards.
Also working against Iupati returning is the fact that their are multiple players already on the roster who could replace him. Brandon Thomas is coming off an ACL injury but San Francisco selected him in the 2014 draft with the idea that he could slide into Iupati’s spot. There’s also Joe Looney who played decently enough at times, and the loser of the Daniel Kilgore/Marcus Martin battle at center will also be in the mix.
In a perfect world, it would be ideal to keep a player like Iupati around, but the NFL is a salary cap league and teams have to make choices. The 49ers will mostly likely choose to let Iupati move on.
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