The San Francisco 49ers offensive line has had its ups and downs in 2016, but it’s strength in pass protection has been a pleasant surprise. There are still issues in run blocking, but compared to last season, this group is significantly better.
As they prepare for the Seattle Seahawks tough front seven, the 49ers offensive line has its work cut out for it. The good news is they’ve got a strong pair of bookends at the tackle positions. There have been no doubts about Joe Staley, but the rising star is right tackle Trenton Brown. He moved into the starting lineup last season for two games, and held off Anthony Davis and Erik Pears to enter the season as the starter.
The folks at Bleacher Report have come up with a fun weekly series called NFL 1000. Every week, a team of 16 media scouts, led by Doug Farrar, rank the top 1,000 players in the NFL. They rank every position, and then rank the overall list. It’s a bold project, but it’s a cool way to consider players from the proverbial eye-ball test.
For Week 2, Staley and Brown emerged high up the leaderboard and left and right tackle. Staley ranked No. 1 among left tackles, with an overall score of 86 out of 100. He was No. 14 out of the 1,000 players ranked. The previous week, Staley ranked No. 9 among left tackles, and No. 56 overall. They offered up this note about Staley:
The 49ers' Joe Staley was stout as ever against a good Carolina Panthers defensive line. He showed good power in the run game and was impenetrable in pass protection, displaying the ability to consistently anchor.
Brown ranked No. 3 among right tackles, with an overall score of 82 out of 100. He was No. 39 out of the 1,000 players ranked. The previous week, he ranked No. 12 among right tackles, and No. 311 overall. They had this to say about Brown:
First-year starter Trenton Brown of the San Francisco 49ers is an intriguing prospect. He is big, physical and agile, and though he plays right tackle, his movement skills and skill set are reminiscent of Cordy Glenn's.
The 49ers face a tough challenge against a Seahawks front seven that ranked out very well in the NFL 1000. Among 4-3 defensive ends, Frank Clark ranked No. 3, and Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril ranked No. 9 and 10, respectively. Among 4-3 outside linebackers, K.J. Wright ranked No. 5 and Mike Morgan ranked No. 17. Among inside linebackers, Bobby Wagner ranked No. 13.
These are all based entirely on their Week 2 performance. I have to think Week 1 performance might influence grading a little bit, as would reputation, but it still gives us an idea where this group of scouts views the 49ers and Seahawks fronts. The 49ers need to get their ground game going, while also continuing to protest Blaine Gabbert in the pocket. This will be one of the biggest matchups of the day.