By Patrick Holloway
The San Francisco 49ers extended Laken Tomlinson in the 2018 offseason rather than pick up his 5th year option, solidifying him as the team’s starting left guard. Considering his path to getting entrenched in the position, it’s pretty impressive.
Tomlinson came to the 49ers in a late-preseason trade from the Detroit Lions. His lack of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook and the regular season looming over the horizon spelled disaster, but instead, Tomlinson found himself starting as the season wore on and not giving the job to anyone else.
Tomlinson was a guest on Matt Maiocco’s 49ers Insider Podcast and discussed the transition to guard in Shanahan’s system so late into the 2017 season:
I think that was one of the first things I learned was how much different the work was for the guards compared to the system I was used to at the time. I trusted in it, I studied my butt off, I had veterans around me; Daniel Kilgore at the time, Joe Staley. I had those guys to lean on and the coaches as well; John Benton, coach [Adam] Stenavich. The system requires a lot from the guards, not only to be smart, but extremely agile, and they trusted that I could bring that to the table....