SF 49ers: 5 biggest surprises early in 2020 so far

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mike McGlinchey, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Surprise No. 4: How problematic the SF 49ers offensive line has been

During their Super Bowl run, the Niners boasted one of the NFL’s better offensive lines despite a myriad of injuries to every single spot aside from left guard, where Laken Tomlinson was the only player to start all 16 games.

Despite those setbacks, San Francisco ended up with a respectable 14th-ranked O-line by Pro Football Focus at year’s end, and Football Outsiders ranked this group eighth in run blocking and 15th in pass protection.

Four weeks into 2020, and Football Outsiders is ranking the SF 49ers O-line 31st in run blocking and 20th in pass protection.

For the most part, veteran left tackle Trent Williams has been a great offseason addition. But the experiment of inserting last year’s backup hero, Daniel Brunskill, in at right guard hasn’t exactly paid off. He’s boasted a lowly 56.7 overall PFF grade this season, and the Niners have also sorely missed still-injured center Weston Richburg.

In his stead, backup center Ben Garland has managed a respectable 72.7 overall PFF grade, but Richburg remains a notable improvement.

Perhaps the biggest weakness, though, has been right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who has regressed in both run blocking and his pass-protection skills from a year ago. Bull-rushes have seemingly gotten to McGlinchey a lot this season. And while pass blocking was never his strength coming out of college, the 49ers’ former first-round NFL Draft choice’s regression in run support is awfully concerning.

While some may have worried a bit about the O-line’s depth in 2020, few could have predicted this unit would be struggling so much over these first four weeks.