Sometimes coaching staffs have to make hard choices when it comes to the starting lineup. Sometimes, circumstances choose for them. In the case of the 49ers’ offensive line, it appears fate has taken that job off of Kyle Shanahan’s plate.
After the first game of the preseason on Friday, two starting offensive linemen suffered injuries. Mike McGlinchey irritated the inside of his knee, and Daniel Brunskill suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out “a few weeks,” according to Kyle Shanahan.
Brunskill’s injury makes the 49ers’ offensive line very inexperienced along the interior. Right now, second-year guard Aaron Banks will be on the left side, Jake Brendel will be the center with all of 3 career starts in six years, and fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford will be the right guard.
Kyle Shanahan was impressed with both guards after the game on Friday.
“We have to see why they’re in the position that they are, having the opportunity to be our starters. It was good to play them a bunch because they both need it. We kept Burford in there a little longer because he’s a little less experienced, and they need these three games, but I thought they showed out there why we believe in them, and I’m real excited about them. Hopefully, they’ll get better each week here up to Week 1.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Banks didn’t allow any pressures in 15 passing snaps against Green Bay, while Burford allowed five pressures in 17 snaps. To be fair, Burford also had some very impressive plays as well.
If that lineup remains unchanged going into the regular season, you can bet Bears head coach (and former defensive coordinator) Matt Eberflus is going to put that part of the o-line to the test in Week 1.
McGlinchey’s injury at right tackle means increased reps for Colton McKivitz and Justin Skule. That might be good enough to get the team through a few games here and there, but the 49ers are going to need McGlinchey to play the majority of the games this season if their offense is going to function — particularly with all that inexperience in the middle.
The good news is that we still have about four weeks before the start of the regular season. Barring any setbacks, none of the injuries we’ve seen to this point should have a long-term impact on the expectations for 2022.
Make sure you follow the Niners Nation Podcast Network now! Our daily 49ers in Five podcast gives you the latest news, the most interesting press conference and radio interview clips, and everything else that you need to know - all in less time than it takes to finish your morning coffee.