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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Trent Williams, Redskins
Trent Williams #71 of the Washington Redskins (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images) /

Why 49ers offensive line gets better in 2020

There are, of course, plenty of reasons to assume San Francisco’s offensive line improves upon the numbers Football Outsiders put together from last season.

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Health could be a key factor here. While Trent Williams hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013. But sitting out in hopes of a new contract, plus being in a contract year now, could give him the rest and recovery needed to stay on the field for the entirety of 2020.

And given Williams’ already prolific, Hall of Fame-caliber resume, paired with his previous knowledge of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, there’s little reason to assume the Niners won’t get better in pass protection with Williams anchoring the left side of the O-line.

Players like Ben Garland, Justin Skule and perhaps even Tom Compton are best served as backups. While any elongated stretch of play from either of the three wouldn’t be ideal, the knowledge any of them could fill in and provide adequate services in a short period of time is OK enough.

Remember, despite all the injuries up front last season, Football Outsiders still ranked San Francisco’s O-line in the top half of all teams last year.

The kicker could potentially be Daniel Brunskill, however. His 475 offensive snaps taken suggest the high PFF grade given to him wasn’t a mere “flash in the pan,” rather a possible sign of things to come. While he was notably better in pass protection than run support, the fact Brunskill is still just 26 years old helps the idea he could flash some improvement still heading into 2020.

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If that’s the case, combined with both health and Williams looking his normal Pro Bowl self, the 49ers O-line could end up being that necessary anchor point for Shanahan’s offense this season.