During Kyle Shanahan’s tenure with the 49ers, when his team is healthy, they’ve been one of the best in the league. Despite deficiencies at certain positions, the Niners still find ways to overcome and compete with the best teams in the NFL.
Some answers go without saying. Health is imperative. Star players drive the league, and San Francisco has no shortage in that aspect. Kittle, Williams, Deebo, Warner, and Bosa must continue to play like the best players in their positions for this team to make a run.
Trey Lance, naturally, has to be competent. The Niners are in trouble if he’s a Tier 4/29th ranked quarterback this year. Fortunately, a lot has to go wrong for that to be the end result.
So, what is the one area that has to click for the 49ers to be a playoff team again? I spoke with Damon Bruce and Larry Krueger on 95.7 The Game, and I thought the answer was obvious:
It has to be the three guys up front, right? They’re going to break in a new center. They’re breaking in a new left guard. And they might be breaking in a new right guard — all while breaking in a first-year starting quarterback.
Assuming Trey Lance is going to be good, which is fair, as Kyle Shanahan generally makes his quarterbacks look good, everything is going to be brand new in front of Lance. If we’re looking on and Lance is running for his life at the beginning of the season, that’s not just going to magically get better.
There should be a lot of focus on what’s happening in front of Lance.
Williams and Shanahan spoke highly of Jake Brendel after the conclusion of minicamp. You would have thought the player who hasn’t started a game since 2018; you’d think Brendel was an All-Pro the way he was hyped up.
I want to see how Brendel handles the Niners interior during the next two weeks. If he can consistently hold his own against the likes of Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw, San Francisco will be fine at center. We’ll know more once the pads come on next week about just how physical of a player Brendel is.
The team ensured to add athleticism and youth for depth in the event of an injury. Trent Williams took Jason Poe on his jet to camp. I expect Poe to be a fan favorite throughout the next month. Dohnovan West won’t go down without a fight, either.
My answer to the question is the trio of interior offensive linemen protecting the 49ers' most valuable asset. What’s your answer?