The 49ers needed to sign an offensive lineman to replace swing tackle Justin Skule, and they just did. Sort of.
The 49ers signed veteran offensive lineman Senio Kelemete, according to the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, who somehow breaks lots of 49ers news all the way from New York.
Garafolo describes Kelemete as a “versatile guy,” which is true — he can play guard and tackle. But he primarily plays guard, and not particularly well. So it would be rather strange if the 49ers signed him to replace Skule, who tore his ACL in practice this past Monday. Skule is the 32nd player who has gotten injured in practice since Kyle Shanahan became the 49ers head coach in 2017.
Kelemete, 31, grew up in Seattle and went to college at Washington. He was a fifth-round pick in 2012, and spent 2013 to 2017 with the New Orleans Saints where he started 23 games at guard.
In 2018, Kelemete signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Houston Texans, where he started 14 games at guard his first season. But in 2019, he missed 15 games with a wrist injury. And in 2020, he was a backup who started five games at guard.
Perhaps the 49ers signed Kelemete to be a backup guard, and they intend to move someone else to tackle, someone such as rookie Jaylon Moore or second-year player Colton McKivitz. Shanahan did say last year the 49ers would have played McKivitz at left tackle if they didn’t have Trent Williams, for what it’s worth.
Or, maybe the 49ers will move Daniel Brunskill from backup center to backup tackle. Brunskill plays all five positions well and always outperformed Skule at offensive tackle in games.
Whatever the 49ers decide, as long as they never play Kelemete at tackle, they should be fine.