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Let’s argue: Brunskill is playing better than McGlinchey

A new weekly article arguing against unpopular opinions on the 49ers

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Our friends at Arrowhead Pride have a series called “Let’s Argue”, where where they take all hot takes, unpopular opinions, and wakcy predictions and argue against them. It’s essentially a mailbag for hot takes. Late Monday afternoon I threw out the question for 49ers fans:

139 responses later and we have something to work with. If you want to wade through those responses, tread lightly. Let’s get into five questions.

“The 49ers D is not great against the run or mobile QB”

Fresh off a performance where the defense looked mortal, and have two mobile quarterbacks in a row on the schedule, I can understand where this comes from. For starters, when you play 11-on-11, most defenses will look worse. That’s the power of a mobile quarterback. The Patriots looked like world-beaters until they ran into Lamar Jacks. If you remember Deshaun Watson in college and what he did to those Nick Saban defenses, that’s a perfect example.

Defenses are forced to account for the quarterback running, so they are a step slow. Arizona ran for 110 yards while averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Most of those long gains by Kenyan Drake came where Kyler Murray was carrying out a fake, or there was some element of misdirection.

Let’s judge the defense for the next two weeks for a bigger sample size.

Deebo hasn’t warranted the praise he’s received from Niners fans

This is interesting. I listed Samuel in the loser’s portion on Tuesday morning. From a production standpoint, I agree with Tommy’s last sentence. It’s easy to ignore a problem when San Francisco is winning. That doesn’t mean there aren’t issues. Those issues are just being masked.

We have too high of expectations for rookie wide receivers. In college, these guys can outrun everyone, or get open effortlessly without using many nuances in their routes. Deebo has evolved as a route runner, but he still has a ways to go. He’s electric with the ball in his hands, and the perfect receiver to complement Emmanuel Sanders and be in this Kyle Shanahan offense. Before Sanders was a 49er, Deebo led the wideouts in receptions.

My guess is fans extrapolate what they see when Samuel does touch the ball, and that’s why we get so excited about the rookie. If the 49ers let Jimmy Garoppolo throw it all over the yard every Sunday, Samuel would have better volume stats. I think there has been equally as much critique about Deebo as there has been praise.

Brunskill is playing better than McGlinchey this year.

Oh, baby, this one has some heat on it.

Brunskill: 131 pass-blocking snaps. One sack, no QB hits, three hurries allowed. Zero penalties.

McGlinchey: 131 pass-blocking snaps. Two sacks allowed, one QB hit, two hurries. Three penalties.

If you’re looking strictly at numbers, it’s tough to argue with Zachary. Once you factor in the amount of help Brunskill received, it makes this more even. The 49ers started using more 12 personnel to protect their offensive tackles once their starting tackles went down with an injury. Brunskill has played exceptional for what he’s been asked to do. There is no denying that. He’s been equally if not better at run blocking as well. Again, not until the Carolina game did we see Brunskill have to execute the type of 1-on-1 blocks or blocks in space that McGlinchey did.

Nobody is arguing that McGlinchey is a better player, but the drop off to Brunskill has been minimal. Credit Shanahan for that.

Let Buckner walk

Could you imagine saying this in July without somebody wanting to decapitate you? That still may be the case, but most would agree that Buckner’s season has been a bit underwhelming.

There is a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with moving Richard Sherman to safety. In a word: no. Everyone wants to go full Madden and move positions. Sherman is still highly effective, and if I’m making changes in the secondary, I’m putting Moseley in the slot long-term. Sherman’s strengths make him a Hall of Fame cornerback. He is not a safety.

As for letting DeForest walk, absolutely not. He’s going to command a ton of money—maybe not as much as we once figured—but he is worth it. What makes the 49ers defensive line so effective is having four highly-skilled players. If you remove one of them, everyone gets worse. If I’m John Lynch, I’m doing everything I can to bring everyone back. If someone backs up the brinks truck for Armstead, I’m going to attempt to find a versatile defender that can play inside and out in free agency and the draft. Armstead has been phenomenal this season, but that wouldn’t make me move on from Buckner, who is still getting better.

Kwon was starting to go back to his old ways

Alexander has eight missed tackles on the season, and six of those came against the Rams. Everything about Alexander will be missed, especially his tackling. Kwon made plays in the open-field that you see linebackers every Sunday miss. Don’t get me started on his coverage ability.

The big loss will come from an emotional standpoint. Watch Fred Warner every time he made a tackle against Arizona. He’s getting up and flexing to the sideline and screaming at somebody. Where do you think he got that type of energy from? The defense fed off Alexander’s energy.

I’m not sure what type of performance we’ll get from Dre Greenlaw, but I am expecting the drop off to be steep.