There are other positions than quarterback on the football field. We promise. While we hang on to every word that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch say about Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance, the last thing I imagine the 49ers wanted to do this offseason was enter 2022 with two new starting offensive guards.
As of today, there’s a real chance that will happen. Laken Tomlinson, Mr. Reliable, is gone. That opens up a spot at left guard. Daniel Brunskill has bounced back and forth between competent and blocking sled.
There are times when we don’t hear Brunskill’s name called all game. But, unfortunately, when tasked with stopping the better defensive tackles in the NFL, Brunskill often comes up short.
We didn’t see the Niners' second-round pick play in 2021, so questions about whether Aaron Banks is the answer are fair. Shanahan spoke about both Banks and Jaylon Moore Tuesday morning. Here he is on Banks:
“If you had asked me halfway through the season if he was going to be playing, I would have said, ‘yes.’ And things started clicking for our team, and we didn’t want to mess it up. But he’s ready to go.”
Drafting Banks last season, then redshirting him and allowing Banks to be Tomlinson’s replacement is precisely how the best organizations do business. You don’t want to wait for a need to open up to fill that spot.
Now, it’s on Banks. And while he played right guard last season, Banks spent time on the left side when he was at Notre Dame. I imagine that’s where he feels the most comfortable at if the team is giving him the first shot at left guard.
It’s refreshing to hear that Banks was coming along nicely last season. I don’t blame them for not pulling Brunskill, as continuity trumps individual talent if it’s close. The last thing you want is for a rookie to step in, miss an assignment, and now somebody is hurt, or you lose a possession due to inexperience.
There will be the typical first-year blunders next season with Banks. According to Shanahan, he might not be the only rookie from 2021 to start. Shanahan hinted at Jaylon Moore being a candidate to start over Brunskill.
From a physical standpoint, Moore has everything you want. He made a few mental mistakes at tackle last year, which is why he didn’t continue to play, but his athleticism and strength are exactly what you want in a guard for Shanahan’s system.
Having Alex Mack back is even more critical for the 49ers if Banks and Moore are starting. If Moore were to beat out Brunskill, then Daniel could serve as the backup guard and center — a position that suits him.