It’ll be interesting to see if the 49ers start Daniel Brunskill or Tom Compton at right guard in 2020.
The San Francisco 49ers said goodbye to two-year starting right guard Mike Person during the offseason, parting ways with a player who started all but two regular-season games between 2018 and 2019.
Shortly afterwards, the Niners inked former New York Jets offensive guard Tom Compton to a one-year, $2.75 million contract. Compton spent 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons, thereby having some knowledge of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
With only $550,000 of that guaranteed, however, it’s no guarantee Compton makes the roster.
One of the primary competitors Compton will face in training camp this year is an unlikely hero from 2019, the versatile lineman Daniel Brunskill.
Brunskill seemingly came out of nowhere after San Francisco scouted him during his AAF days with the San Diego Fleet. And while few thought of him as anything more than a camp player prior to the regular season, Brunskill ended up starting seven games at left tackle, right tackle and right guard in place of Person.
Brunskill’s development, and also his noteworthy 73.0 overall Pro Football Focus grade, put him in top contention to replace Person this season. But with Compton aboard, there’s no guarantee Brunskill makes the leap from versatile backup to qualified starter.
Tom Compton to get better with 49ers?
Compton’s 2019 efforts didn’t quite stand out, at least according to PFF, which awarded him a 49.7 overall grade. Granted, New York’s offensive line wasn’t anywhere close to the caliber the 49ers offered up en route to the Super Bowl — Football Outsiders ranked the Jets O-line 30th in pass protection and 31st in run blocking last year, compared to the Niners’ rankings of 15th and eighth in each respective category. So it’s understandable Compton’s play should improve with a better cast of linemen around him.
Still, even Compton understands it won’t be a direct path to starting.
“The plan is to compete for the right guard position,” Compton told 49ers.com. “They’re obviously not just going to hand it to me. It’s definitely something that has to be earned, so my mindset is that I’m competing for the right guard spot. A nice thing about me is that I’ve played basically every position, so I’m also very versatile when it comes to that. During meetings, my focus is at guard.”
There’s another wrinkle in the mix here, too. A year ago during OTAs, then-rookie lineman Ross Reynolds out of Iowa looked as if he was a dark-horse favorite to make the 2019 roster. Reynolds’ stock eventually fell in training camp, ultimately landing him on the practice squad.
Entering 2020, Reynolds is again a dark-horse candidate. But as one of the better under-the-radar run blockers on San Francisco’s roster, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him turn heads this year after getting a full year’s development.
Still, the primary battle will fall between Brunskill and Compton, and both players’ versatility bodes well for their chances to hang around the 53-man roster this season.