The San Francisco 49ers came into 2018 with an offensive line that was hopefully beefed up. With the draft pick, extension, free agent signing, and the ongoing competition at right guard, it was a hope the line could become a strength instead of a weakness.
Two weeks in and things aren’t so bad. Pro Football Focus has their offensive line rankings after two weeks, and you may have a double take when you see where the 49ers are ranked:
Offensive Line Rankings— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 20, 2018
Who has the NFL's top offensive line after two weeks?https://t.co/tJeZOkRPeL
(via @PFF_Mike) pic.twitter.com/v492YmcEYv
Here’s what they said:
After a rough Week 1 for rookie Mike McGlinchey that forced him to switch positions, the former Notre Dame standout was back to his best at right tackle against the Lions. McGlinchey allowed only two hurries on 36 pass-block snaps and was the seventh highest-graded tackle of the week. Here’s to hoping there are no more position switches forced upon him in the near future.
Sixth is quite a jump for this group, but there’s much they can improve on.
In 2017, before Jimmy Garoppolo went under center for the final five games, the line had several issues, notably protecting the quarterback in pass protection. It improved a great deal with Garoppolo’s abilty to get the ball out quick, but it still needed work if they were going to keep Garoppolo upright. They drafted Mike McGlinchey with their first pick in the 2018 NFL draft and signed Weston Richburg in free agency. Laken Tomlinson signed an extension in the offseason while the right guard position is still ongoing between Mike Person and Joshua Garnett.
The line gave up six sacks in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions, but some of those sacks are on the shoulders of Garoppolo who tucked the ball and took the hit rather than force something into tight coverage with the Lions’ grabby secondary. The rest of them are due to some of the line’s blocking and some play design, as broken down by James Brady.
This is only two weeks and the 49ers have 14 more games to play before we can say the line has become a crowning achievement, but given some of the awful protection displayed last year, this is a great sign on how much things have been retooled.