SF 49ers need these 3 things to reach playoffs
SF 49ers offensive line must play like it did against Aaron Donald and the LA Rams
The SF 49ers lost a franchise legend and one of the best left tackles in the NFL when Joe Staley retired last offseason. Not only did the Niners lose an immovable object and unstoppable force on the field, but they also lost Staley’s experience, respect and accountability off of it.
On the field, Trent Williams is perhaps the best offensive tackle replacement San Francisco could have asked for and has been the team’s most consistent offensive lineman through six weeks. He has an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 85.3 over that span.
Compare that to the one player who seems to have been affected the most by Staley’s absence, right tackle, Mike McGlinchey.
McGlinchey was a better pass blocker than run blocker, with grades of 70.5 and 67.2, respectively. However, the tables have turned, drastically. According to PFF, McGlinchey is the fourth-best run-blocking tackle in the NFL, whilst his pass-blocking grade is only just the second-worst along the 49ers offensive line. McGlinchey has a staggering PFF rating of 89.2 in the run game, compared to 60.0 in the passing game, which has McGlinchey ranked towards the bottom of qualifying tackles.
Left guard Laken Tomlinson has also been consistent, yet his PFF pass-blocking grade has fallen from 69.3 in 2019 to 67.6, whilst his run-blocking grade has increased from 61.2 to 71.2.
Center Ben Garland has performed admirably when run blocking, earning a grade of 72.5, which is good for fifth out of 35 qualifying centers. Garland’s pass blocking has been costly, though, with a grade of 60.2.
Right guard Daniel Brunskill, has struggled at right guard so far, too, with a pass-blocking grade of 53.2 and a run-blocking grade of 59.0, although him effectively shutting down Rams perennial All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald in Week 6 was worth noting.
Still, San Francisco’s O-line has given up 18 sacks so far.
However, all is not lost.
Against the Dolphins, there was a clear improvement in the run blocking. The Niners only gained less than 4 yards, running the ball, once on first down, on 11 running plays called. That was still a 2-yard gain. The downfall was when the SF 49ers passed the ball on second downs. They had a total of 21 second downs, 16 of those were passing plays. Of those 16 passing plays, 10 were incompletions or sacks. Six plays went for positive yards.
Fortunately, the pass protection improved against Los Angeles, which had a league-high 20 sacks entering the contest, and Kyle Shanahan didn’t get away from the ground game.