The 49ers offensive line was good in 2019, but offseason changes prompt questions heading into 2020.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has spent a lot of effort the past few years getting the offensive line the way he wants it to look.
This is inherently necessary, considering Shanahan’s complex outside-zone blocking system, which relies on movement, mobility, bootlegs, the ability to block in space and much more. Since Shanahan took over duties in 2017, the Niners have added a number of faces, including right tackle Mike McGlinchey taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, a high-profile free-agent signing in center Weston Richburg, a trade for left guard Laken Tomlinson and a relatively unheralded guard in Mike Person.
Parting ways with Person this offseason after his two-year stint in San Francisco was just one of the changes the 49ers made heading into 2020, but it certainly wasn’t the biggest.
Veteran left tackle Joe Staley, previously the longest-tenured member of the Niners, announced his retirement during the 2020 NFL Draft, which followed the blockbuster trade with the Washington Redskins for the perennial Pro Bowler, Trent Williams.
Williams, who is both younger and more imposing than Staley, should be considered an upgrade.
He’ll be tasked with helping a San Francisco O-line which ranked eighth in run blocking and 15th in pass protection last year, according to Football Outsiders. But Williams is signed only through this season and will be playing for what promises to be a lucrative new contract in 2021.
How that ends up panning out this upcoming season is just one of the many burning questions Shanahan and his O-line will have to face when the 49ers take to the field in their quest to get back to the Super Bowl.