San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel spoke to the media for the first time Wednesday. We talked about replacing Justin Skule at swing tackle after Skule went down with a season-ending ACL injury during Monday’s practice.
Here’s who McDaniel said has filled in for Skule:
“Well it’s good that you said who’s in the running, because if I was a betting man, I probably wouldn’t bet on who it’s going to be. Because that’s what training camp is for. Training camp is to settle those things.
But, one of the great things we have in terms of our offensive line position room, is there’s a ton of players that are good at tackle. There’s a ton of versatility. There’s a lot of people that will be competing in that spot.
For instance, in OTAs, there was OL Colton McKivitz getting reps at tackle who played guard for us last year. OL Jaylon Moore was getting reps at tackle. OL Shon Coleman was back getting reps at tackle. Even OL Dan Brunskill. There’s a lot of guys that are going to be competing and a lot of above-the-line NFL players. So, it will be very excited to see who can take that spot that Justin himself was competing for.”
McDaniel was genuine with his answers, so when he said he didn’t know who would win the swing tackle job, we can believe him.
The 49ers will have a month to sort the position out. It sounds like four guys are battling, though Coleman may be the lone player who can only play one position. We should factor in positional flexibility when making roster projections.
Speaking of flexibility, I asked McDaniel about second-round pick Aaron Banks and if his size profile was a hint at the 49ers adding in more gap and man-blocking principles. Banks is listed at 6’5”, 338 pounds. Men that size don’t usually go to teams that utilize zone-blocking schemes primarily, as the 49ers do.
My question to Mcdaniel was if he sees the team adding more of those gap/man principles, or is that dependent on Banks’ skillset or having five guys consistently healthy upfront:
“Yeah. We’ve heard that and for us it’s funny because we have a history of smaller offensive lineman. But that’s really because we haven’t invested second round draft picks into offensive linemen. We’d prefer everyone to be 400 pounds and 6’10 if you could engineer that.
We do a lot of gap schemes and man schemes in our offense. But to say that we’re changing the things, no. We felt like he had a skill set that could thrive and have lot of faith in [offensive line coach Chris] Foerster and [assistant offensive line coach] Butch Barry and [assistant offensive line coach] Zach Yenser to get him to perform to our standards.
We weren’t looking through a vision of changing anything. We thought that this is a guy that was quick enough that on the second level could attach to the defenders. He had a lot of skills. And yeah, we like that he’s big. He’s just gonna have to run fast while being big and we felt like he was a candidate to do that.”
Instead of focusing on size alone, McDaniel and the 49ers looked at what Banks brings to the table, which fits what the 49ers do on offense.
That tells you Banks is nimble and aware, which is what it takes to get guys blocked in a zone-blocking scheme. As McDaniel said, if you can cut guys off at the second level, that’s huge. That’s how you create cutback lanes, which leads to Raheem Mostert running for 90 yards.
Rob Lowder and I spoke more about what Mike McDaniel and Kyle Shanahan had to say below: