Yeah, the 49ers’ injuries are piling up, especially on the offensive line.
I mean, really bad. Both starting tackles, the top backup swing tackle, and might-as-well-be-OL fullback Kyle Juszczyk are all out at least four games.
What if Washington owner Dan Snyder finally pulled his head out of his site decorum and agreed to deal with a Shanahan-coached team, despite his bitter grudge?
Especially then. Don’t trade.
It’s hard to think of a situation for any team in any year where a panic trade right now would make sense. Something like Denver during Peyton Manning’s last year, having already gone all-in and knowing that they were in a position to win the Super Bowl, but would have to blow up the roster at year’s end? Maybe then.
But that is not what this team is. The Niners are young, cohesive, close-knit, and above all on the rise. They could go deep this year — everyone sees the potential now — but they will be better next year. And the year after that, as their young core grows into their strength together.
A trade is a play for just this year, at the cost of the future. This franchise should be aiming for five strong years. For ten. For a dynasty.
Learn from Los Angeles
The Rams played for one year in 2018, got to the big dance, and were humiliated. Now we already see their wheels coming off five games into the very next season, with free agents gone, their grit-less quarterback exposed, their best offensive weapon (Gurley) hobbled permanently, and their offensive line is crumbling.
I guess they had to sell seat licenses for their new stadium, or something. Oh well. It was good for Niners fans in the long run.
Every GM knows the Niners are desperate for offensive line talent. And John Lynch already talked to anyone who had a player he might have liked in the off-season. If the price was too high then, it sure isn’t any cheaper now.
Don’t get me wrong; the next four games are going to be ugly. This team will probably lose one or more games that they were likely to win, before all these injuries. But they are undefeated and can afford that risk.
A blessing in disguise
Besides, there are advantages to struggling through it. Depth players get tested, and some step-up impressively (as Justin Skule has done). When Staley and McGlinchey come back, this team will be deeper, and able to rotate the line more in blowouts. If players can’t rise to the occasion, then Lynch will know who to move on from next spring.
Kyle Shanahan also gets a chance to explore some different formations and plays. In his press conference Tuesday, he talked about using defensive tackle Sheldon Day (at least in goal-line situations) but laughed about his pass-catching ability. That pretty much guarantees that the coach will call a fullback leak play for Day, and he’ll rumble for 20 yards.
Of course, Shanahan can use the more traditional alternatives that most NFL coaches use instead of having a proper fullback these days — motioning in tight ends, maybe taking advantage of the physicality of players like Deebo Samuel and Jordan Matthews, his newly-signed 6’3” slot receiver.
It may work better to have George Kittle take on Juszczyk’s role — the crunching blocker with ability to pick up big gains when he leaks out for a pass — and let Levine Toilolo and Ross Dwelley split the snaps at TE, but it’s safe to say Shanahan will figure that out — and toss in a wrinkle or two that he’s been saving for a special occasion.
This big rivalry game against the fading Rams is definitely a special occasion. There’s just one thing that Shanahan and Lynch will have to remember: