The San Francisco 49ers’ offensive line will look different going into the 2020 NFL season. Longtime stalwart Joe Staley retired, leading general manager John Lynch to acquire All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams from Washington to take his place.
On the inside of the line, it looks like Laken Tomlinson should retain his starting position at left guard. The Niners released Mike Person during the offseason, and signed veteran Tom Compton, who will battle it out with the impressive Daniel Brunskill for the vacant right guard spot. San Francisco added Colton McKivitz in the draft as well.
PFF released its NFL offensive line rankings going into the 2020 season, and placed the 49ers at No. 8:
“The 49ers ranked 14th in our 2019 regular-season rankings, but they should be even better in 2020 if the starting five remains healthy. Left tackle Joe Staley retired this offseason after an outstanding career, including a strong 2019 season where he earned an 81.3 overall grade that tied for seventh in the NFL. The 49ers traded for Trent Williams during the 2020 NFL Draft, and he had the fifth-best overall grade (90.8) among tackles from 2015-18. Williams is an excellent combination of smooth pass protector and powerful run blocker. Plus, his career-high 88.9 run-blocking grade came in 2013 in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system. Mike McGlinchey’s first two NFL seasons at right tackle have looked much like his college career, as he’s been a top-notch run blocker and a capable pass blocker. His 81.2 run-blocking grade ranks eighth among tackles, but his 66.0 pass-blocking grade ranks just 73rd. He must improve that mark to take the next step in Year 3.”
Right now, it looks like the starters will be Williams, Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Brunskill and McGlinchey. It’s hard not to argue that Williams is an upgrade over Staley from a talent standpoint, especially with Joe getting up there in years. Williams is four years younger, and is the more athletic of the two.
Tomlinson ranked 23rd among all NFL guards last season with a 68.8 overall grade, while Brunskill graded out at 73.0 over the eight games where he played a majority of the offensive snaps in 2019.
Richburg remains a question mark. Before injuring his knee in Week 14, Richburg ranked 23rd among centers, per PFF. The 29-year-old is the eighth highest paid center in the league, and San Francisco will need him to play like it if it wants to make another run at the Super Bowl. Reserve Ben Garland did a nice job filling in for Richburg after the injury. His versatility gives the 49ers some depth on their line.
The teams ranked ahead of the Niners are: The Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots.
What do you think of PFF’s rankings? Should the 49ers be higher, or lower on the list?