There’s no doubt that the 49ers need O-line help. There’s no doubt that Garnett is a talented lineman, built for the NFL and an absolute mauler in the run game in particular. This is a little odd though. As good as Garnett is, he’s not looked at as a first rounder, and surely would have been available for the 49ers to pick up later, during day 2 of the draft. Why did they feel compelled to make the move up to take him in the first round? They have a lot of picks and can afford to sacrifice one or two to target who they want, but this is none-the-less a little surprising. This is bizarre. He’s going to be a great pro, and an instant starter who will play for a long time, but taking everything in to context this is a questionable pick.
Garnett is the opposite with his imposing size and overpowering strength. I’ve always remembered the earliest description of him that I heard, referring to Garnett as “a coke machine with arms and legs”. That is fitting, as he’s not just got the length and weight, but a very broad frame on which he’s built his NFL-calibre body. Much of the huge success that his running back and Heisman runner-up Christian McCaffrey had came via the left hand side of his offensive line, where Garnett at left guard and his fellow senior outside at tackle Kyle Murphy opened up huge holes at times to ease through. Garnett’s play in particularly stood out, and deservingly won the Outland Trophy in 2015 as the best interior lineman (on either side of the ball) in the country. Garnett certainly uses his size to his advantage in his game, playing with physicality and power. Once his contact is established, the contest is usually over, and typically his blocks are finished emphatically, pancaking defenders to the ground. He had some definite inconsistency in the passing game in 2014, allowing a few too many easy pressures, but that area of his play appears to have received some focus as it was much improved in his senior year. While his size should undoubtedly translate to the next level, Garnett needs to clean up his technique quite a bit. In particular, he has a frequent habit of bending over significantly at the waist, which can lead to over-reaching and balance issues. Another area lacking is some very average athleticism and movement, but his strength and long reach do compensate for the most part. With his ideal build, three and a half years starting experience in the PAC-12, and showing steady improvement over that time, Garnett will make a solid roster addition.