Why the 49ers offensive line will be better in 2022

One area of focus with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason has been the state of their offensive line. The team lost left guard Laken Tomlinson to the New York Jets during free agency, and center Alex Mack retired. In addition, right tackle Mike McGlinchey is working his way back after suffering a torn quad tendon during a week eight loss to Arizona.

Needing to replace at least two starting offensive linemen, possibly three is cause for concern; however, there is reason to believe the offensive line will be better than it was last season.

Kyle Shanahan has shown the ability to win without household names upfront. In 2019, the 49ers reached the Super Bowl with Ben Garland filling in at center after Weston Richburg was lost for the season in week 14. Earlier that season, San Francisco went 8-1 with Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill filling in at left tackle for an injured Joe Staley.

In 2020, San Francisco had to go through the entire season with musical chairs at the center position and right guard due to Weston Richburg’s inability to return from injury. Despite the injuries and the constant rotation at center and guard, San Francisco had a squad capable of reaching the playoffs but was held back by poor quarterback play.

We saw it last year as well. Tom Compton, a journeyman, took over at right tackle after the injury to McGlinchey, and the team had to start Colton McKivitz in place of Trent Williams in a must-win week 18 game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Through all the personnel changes along the offensive line, San Francisco has seen the percent of sacks allowed drop each of the last three seasons, going from 7.0 in 2019 to 6.0 last season.

With Trey Lance set to replace Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, that percentage will likely drop again in 2022.

While Jimmy Garoppolo’s quick release is often credited with helping the offensive line, Lance’s athleticism helped them out even more. Garoppolo was sacked 6.2 percent of the time when attempting to pass in 2021, dropping to 5.3 percent with Lance.

Kyle Shanahan’s game-planning combined with Trey Lance’s ability to move will help for a smooth transition to Aaron Banks and Jake Brendel, and result in fewer sacks in 2022.

This article has 19 Comments

  1. Jack is ever the optimist. I am not really sold on the OL. Trey’s release is in question, if not his ability to run and move quickly. Niners should have added real talent to this line if they were serious about the playoffs. Just contemplating McGlinchey’s last year here makes me blanch. So much depends on Trey’s rapid development as we do not have a respectable backup QB. Silly contract for what’s his name. Some think Purdy will beat out the backup guy with the huge contract.

    Many reservations but I await Geep’s expert analysis.

  2. You posted this article just to taunt me, didn’t you? JK. The 49ers offensive line is the biggest question mark and the biggest area of concern going into next year. Giving up everything you gave up for Trey Lance and then throwing him behind an interior line of 2 brand new starters and 1 subpar performer makes no sense whatsoever to me. Convince me Chris Foerster is the next coming of Bobb Mckittrick and my concern might be eased. Otherwise, the 49ers O-line will absolutely determine if the 49ers finish 3rd in the division out of the playoffs, or they make the NFC Championship game.

  3. Jack
    As always, I appreciate your expert analysis and (cross my fingers), hope you’re right! But as you so accurately point out, “needing to replace at least two starting offensive linemen, possibly three is cause for concern.”
    * Jake Brendel: Undrafted in the 2016 Draft, he signed with the Cowboys on May 6, 2016. On September 3, 2016, he was released and signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad the next day. He was released from the practice squad with an injury settlement.
    * On October 12, 2016, Brendel signed with the Dolphins’ practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster on November 19, 2016. He appeared in one game. In 2017, he appeared in all 16 games as a backup center.
    On September 2, 2018, Brendel was placed on IR with a calf injury. He was activated off IR on November 2. He played in four games, starting three at left guard and center due to injuries, before being placed back on injured reserve on December 12, 2018.
    * On April 18, 2019, Brendel signed with the Denver Broncos. He was released on August 31, 2019.
    * On November 27, 2019, Brendel was signed by the Baltimore Ravens, but was released three days later on November 30.
    * On February 7, 2020, Brendel signed with the 9ers. On August 6, Brendel opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19. On August 31, 2021, Brendel was waived during final roster cuts. On March 9, 2022, Brendel re-signed with the 49ers.
    FACT: No one is going to accuse Jake Brendel of being Alex Mack! When not on IR, he’s been a backup Center!

    * Daniel Brunskill: Rinse and repeat! If you liked him in 2021, you’ll loveeerrr, tolerate him in 2022. A year of
    experience playing RG should help him improve. If not, I expect Jaylon Moore will replace him.

    * Aaron Banks: While unable to replace RG Daniel Brunskill in 2021, (In part due to injury….And conditioning), returning to LG, the position he played at Notre Dame, I believe he’ll grow into the position…..With help from playing next to TW.

    * Mike McGlinchey: He’s coming off a torn quad suffered in week 9 loss to Arizona. If he’s slow to recover, I look
    for Colton McKivitz to replace him until he’s capable of playing.
    NOTE: I would also add, I expect McGlinchey to be a salary cap casualty in 2023, replaced by Spencer Burford.
    If McKivitz falters, Burford could replace both in 2022.

    As alway Jack, I look forward to, and welcome your comments.

  4. Jack as always, I agree with you on this topic. I think these same doubters felt the same way last year when the Niners made it one game shy of the Super Bowl. Last year PFF ranked the Oline #3. My guess is that the Oline will start off slow as it always takes time for this group to gel but after a few games will be pretty good.

    1. Felix
      The headline of Jacks article is “WHY THE 49ERS O-LINE WILL BE BETTER IN 2022.” Not “pretty good!”
      QUESTION: How do the following facts make the 9ers O-Line better in 2022?

      A) Jake Brendel: An often injured career back up, who’s been let go from every team that has signed him
      FACT: Brendel is NOT as good as Alex Mack.
      B) Aaron Banks: Is NOT as good as Laken Tomlinson.
      C) Daniel Brunskill: An unknown from the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. An O-lineman for the
      9ers over the last 3 years, who’s has played all 5 spots along the O-line. As the RG last year, Brunskill’s overall PFF grade was 61.4 with five sacks allowed. That makes him a versatile but average RG.
      D) Mike McGlinchey: Coming off a torn quad suffered in week 9 loss to Arizona. Even if he passes a physical
      and is cleared to play, he’ll need time to be 100% both physically and mentally.

      A “pretty good” O-Line is NOT, IMO, better than than the 2022 O-Line.

        1. Felix
          Reading comprehension is not just essential, but fundamental to understanding!

          I’m questioning your reasoning, not Jacks! I asked You to explain how a “pretty good” (Your words), O-Line is better than than the 2022 O-Line? Please explain your logic?

  5. 49ers rumors: Baker Mayfield trade to Seahawks would be great news….

    * 9ers would be free to trade Jimmy Garoppolo if Baker Mayfield is moved….
    * The Panthers, too, need a quarterback unless they’re poised for more mediocrity with Sam Darnold under center, yet they also may have been in the market for Mayfield. If the soon-to-be former Browns quarterback does wind up going to the Hawks, Carolina would have few other options than to explore acquiring Garoppolo.
    In this regard, perhaps San Francisco would be justified by waiting for Garoppolo’s market to improve, a reality made better by the fact he’s coming close to a full recovery in the wake of offseason shoulder surgery.
    * Additionally, depending on what happens with Watson and a potential year-long suspension on the table, the Browns may also be forced to get desperate, potentially creating what the 49ers would want most: a late bidding war for Jimmy G on the trade market.

  6. As Grant Cohn so poignantly put it a few weeks back..the Niners O-line consists of All Pro LT, Trent Williams and 4 dudes..lmao! Though I appreciate and applaud Jack’s ‘reserved’ confidence, but I believe the O line will be the 9ers Achilles heel….too many question marks, and inexperience to put in front of a rookie qb, and expect prosperity

    1. agree. I think our OL is not as good this year as last. The Niners are paying for the mistake of not drafting a top or near-top center. They have had their draft blind spot for many years.

          1. Sorry 😢

            I know how you and Kyle and John are the most formidable trio in professional sports right now.

        1. Interesting..I had forgotten about him. It would be good to have a center for 10 years who could grow with the team.

  7. The Washington Commanders and WR Terry McLaurin have agreed to a 3 year extension worth ~ $71 Mil. The McLaurin contract extension will likely push the 9er, Deebo Samuel extension to the $24 – $25 Mil. P/Y range.

    The 9er FO will want Deebo to sign a 5 year, back loaded, $120 – $125 Mil. P/Y extension, with a $ 25 – $30 Mil signing bonus and ~$60 Mil guaranteed. That would also allow them to spread his money out to later years, when the teams salary cap is higher, and set themselves up to bail a year or two early from the deal if he doesn’t perform through his late 20s.
    Deebo may want to sign a 3 year contract, allowing him to sign another extension before he retires.

  8. Jack: Question
    If Deebo gets his salary extended for ~$25 Mil in 2023, trading JG will cover Deebo’s $25 Mil.
    * Where do the 9ers find the money to extend Bosa, who’ll have 2 years left on his contract after a fifth-year option for 2023? Nick Bosa’s older brother, Joey Bosa, signed a five-year, $135 million extension averaging $27 million per year with $102 million in overall guarantees and $78 million fully guaranteed at signing.

    * Mike McGlinchey’s $10,880,000 salary likely means he won’t be back for the 2023 season?
    * Cutting Dee Ford will add ~$2.4 Mil.
    * Samson Ebukam’s $8,250,000 salary may make him dispensable, unless his play earns it?
    * How much, in your opinion, will it cost the 9ers to extend Nick Bosa?

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