One of the crowning achievements of the San Francisco 49ers 2018 season (one of the few) is how the retooled offensive line has jumped in rankings. The 2018 line is ranked sixth in Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings, thanks largely in part to the two anchormen Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey. The latter of which has been a frequent member of PFF’s Team of the Week. We can’t forget Laken Tomlinson who had a lukewarm reception to his extension this past offseason has been holding his own. Even with a question mark at right guard (draft, draft, DRAFT), the once cringe-worthy line has finally been fixed thanks to Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. This was a problem going all the way back to Jim Harbaugh’s final year.
Just one problem, the defenses they’ve faced kind of stink.
As far as run defense goes, The Minnesota Vikings run defense is the best they’ve faced, ranked sixth by Pro Football Focus. The next highest? The Green Bay Packers, ranked 24th. You saw how the run game had their way with that group last night, and run game is a huge product of offensive line play. In fact the 49ers run blocking is sniffing elite territory.
What about pass rush? Well that’s a bit better. The best one? The Packers at ninth, followed by the Vikings at 10th and the Cardinals at a tie for 11th. The big one to take from pass rush rankings is the Los Angeles Rams at number 2.
To be fair, the Rams are ranked 12th in run defense, but this is still a big one. The 49ers may be able to run block, but if they can keep C.J. Beathard upright is another question entirely. To quote the great Ric Flair, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” Whether win or loss, the offensive line has a chance to show they can pass block as well as run block and once again the 49ers offensive line can take their claim as one of the best in the league, a praise not given since the Jim Harbaugh years.
The 49ers offensive line is quickly becoming one of the league’s best and this game will be the one for them to put a period next to the ranking. Win or lose, this is the game to see if it’s legit.
And if there at least is something developing from this season.