San Francisco 49ers: 3 players who must exceed expectations in 2020

The San Francisco 49ers defense (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers defense (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Daniel Brunskill, 49ers
Offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill #60 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

No. 3: 49ers Offensive Lineman Daniel Brunskill

One of the reasons why the Niners lost Super Bowl LIV was because then-starting right guard Mike Person had too much difficulty handling Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, particularly in the fourth quarter.

The Niners bid farewell to Person during the offseason, then inked former New York Jets guard Tom Compton to compete with the likely starter at the position, the versatile Daniel Brunskill, who certainly exceeded expectations from the ranks of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football in 2019.

As a backup, Brunskill performed admirably backing up Person at guard as well as filling in at both left and right tackle, earning a very good 73.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

Brunskill had plenty of pressure on him last season, yes. But that was as a reserve, meaning the expected level of contribution was nowhere near as high as it should be entering 2020. And while Compton is still in the mix for a starting role, the job appears to be Brunskill’s to lose.

So, why is it important for San Francisco?

Jones’ prowess in the Super Bowl revealed this weakness, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see other teams, perhaps like the Los Angeles Rams with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, try to replicate what Jones did.

As such, Brunskill will have to be even more reliable and effective protecting the Niners’ offensive interior.