3 reasons why 49ers offensive line is strongest position in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 3: 49ers have starting-caliber depth along the offensive line
Last year proved why it’s essential to have quality backups, and few positions are at risk of suffering more injury attrition than an NFL offensive line.
The 49ers learned this the hard way, already without now-retired center Weston Richburg and then losing No. 2 center Ben Garland early in 2020, which forced a carousel of movement within the interior spots.
The only Niners player who played all 16 regular-season games was left guard Laken Tomlinson. And when the team was forced to field one Hroniss Grasu at center, that tells you what you need to know.
This won’t be the case (knock on wood) in 2021, though.
Reserve linemen like Senio Kelemete, Shon Coleman and Tom Compton have all been full-time starters at respective points in their careers, while second-year pro Colton McKivitz filled starting voids for San Francisco a year ago. None are guaranteed to make the roster, yet at least the 49ers won’t be relying heavily on first- or second-year players, which will make for a bit of a wild card.
But the biggest kicker could be the domino effect from adding Notre Dame guard Aaron Banks, who’ll directly compete with the veteran, Daniel Brunskill, for the starting right guard spot.
Should Banks win this competition, and there are reasons why he could, Brunskill would revert back to be a massively serviceable backup, who posted an excellent 73.0 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 2019 while playing a variety of starting roles.
That’s quality depth right there.