Why 49ers offensive line gets better, worse in 2020

Offensive tackle Justin Skule #67 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Offensive tackle Justin Skule #67 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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The San Francisco 49ers offensive line (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

Do all those 49ers offseason changes make the offensive line better or worse heading into 2020?

The San Francisco 49ers offensive line experienced a whirlwind of a season in 2019, followed by an even more turbulent offseason heading into 2020.

Unlike 2018, when the Niners O-line saw just one player miss one start over the entire year, 2019 was marked by a flurry of injuries at multiple positions. The only consistent starter who managed to appear in all 16 regular-season games was left guard Laken Tomlinson.

As for the rest of the starters? Well, the remaining four were absent these numbers of regular-season contests:

A variety of injuries ultimately meant San Francisco was employing a number of different O-line combinations over the course of the season. Considering how difficult and time-consuming it can be for these units to jell, it’s a bit of a wonder the 49ers blockers finished eighth in run blocking and 15th in pass protection last season as a whole, per Football Outsiders.

During the offseason, however, a myriad of changes took place which could ultimately benefit or hinder this unit heading into 2020. Staley retired, which paralleled the Niners’ blockbuster trade with the Washington Redskins for perennial Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams. Person was let go, followed shortly thereafter by inking former New York Jets guard Tom Compton to a one-year deal.

Compton figures to compete with one of 2019’s heroes, the versatile Daniel Brunskill, who stood out in a key backup role last season.

But will Brunskill perform at the same level he did a season ago? Or will his efforts, potentially paralleling the rest of this group, see a dip in production heading into 2020?

Niner Noise explores both sides of the pending outcome.