On Monday, we debated who meant more to the 49ers 2023 success between Spencer Burford and Aaron Banks. Both guards had their ups and downs during their initial seasons as starters, but also showed enough promise where the team didn’t feel like they needed to add depth at either spot this offseason.
Pro Football Focus ranked each team’s offensive line ahead of the regular season, and the Niners came in just below average at No. 18:
18. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (DOWN 11)
Projected Starting Lineup
LG Aaron Banks
If it wasn’t for Trent Williams, this line would be a concerning group on paper. It still may need to lean on Kyle Shanahan’s offense to put some gloss on its performances.
San Francisco’s line ranked fifth in PFF pass-blocking efficiency over the 2022 season but lost two starters in the offseason.
Best Player: Trent Williams
Trent Williams finished as the best-graded tackle in the NFL for the third straight season. He is a future Hall of Famer and one of the best players in the game.
Moving the Niners down 11 spots after losing Mike McGlinchey seems harsh. If they are counting Daniel Brunskill as a starter, well, that’s incorrect. Furthermore, Jake Brendel started every game at center and re-signed to the team on a four-year contract this offseason. So, who knows where PFF got the idea that Feliciano will start.
It’s fair to question McKivitz as he doesn’t have a track record as a starter. In Kyle Shanahan’s system, the offensive line is a sum of its parts. If Banks or Burford’s play plateaus, and McKivitz is a slight downgrade from McGlinchey, the offense will remain productive and efficient.
But that is the worst-case scenario. If the Niners were fifth in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency a season ago, it’s safe to assume both guards would improve, even if it’s slightly, while Brendel would as well in his second season with the team.
The offensive line finished fourth in adjusted line yards, which is a Football Outsiders metric that attempts to assign the responsibility of yards the offensive line created for running backs on run plays.
No matter who was under center, the quarterbacks remained relatively upright a year ago. These newer line metrics such as pass block win-rate leave a lot to be desired and don’t come close to telling the entire story.
The 49ers offensive line is closer to No. 10 than No. 20. And that’s before you factor in their depth, which is much improved from where it’s been in year’s past.