49ers 53-man roster: Power ranking each unit entering 2021

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Trent Williams, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) Mandatory Credit: San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network /

5th: 49ers Offensive Line

Starters: LT Trent Williams, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Alex Mack, RG/OL Daniel Brunskill, RT Mike McGlinchey

Backups: G/T Jaylon Moore, G Tom Compton, G Aaron Banks

A year ago, the 49ers offensive line would have probably been last, or second to last if you were willing to stretch it. That’s surprising given how they had Trent Williams, the second-best left tackle, according to Pro Football Focus, and certainly a top-three tackle by any usable metric.

But this year, the offensive line moves up due to a couple of timely additions that bolster the starters and increase the talent of the backups.

Added to the fray is center Alex Mack, who at 35 years old is not at the prime of his career, but is without question an above-average starter capable of elevating the play of all the linemen around him.

Centers are uniquely important to the offensive line for multiple reasons, one of which being the ability to adjust and set blocking assignments up at the line. But Mack offers a pillar of support at the center spot, allowing the guards aside him more breathing room and a little more flexibility. In the notably small sample size we saw of Alex Mack in the preseason, the entire offensive line was jelling, buoyed by his addition.

Laken Tomlinson and Mike McGlinchey, the other two returning starters, both have a relatively safe floor with good upside. For Tomlinson, it’s less so, but his play with Mack by his side could have him squarely as an above-average left guard, which he plays as regularly.

For McGlinchey, last year was a showcase of his breakdown as a player: good in the run game, bad in the passing game. For McGlinchey, his run blocking gives him a solid floor as an average right tackle. His potentially improved pass blocking gives him a tremendous ceiling. The hope is a more cohesive offensive line helps him feel he doesn’t have to overcompensate when pass-blocking and allows him to be more consistent.

That leaves right guard where rookie Aaron Banks heavily struggled for the early part of training camp and the first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs before missing the rest of the preseason with a shoulder injury. That means Daniel Brunskill will be the starter, and while Brunskill can be serviceable in that role, that’s not the ideal situation for San Francisco. With Mack and a more confident McGlinchey surrounding him, perhaps Brunskill’s issues will pop up less glaringly.

Tom Compton is a depth piece if there ever was on, his inclusion on the final 53-man roster is confusing. Banks is still rehabbing, and while he could fill in if necessary, it seems he still has more development needed before taking the step to the NFL level, partially due to his position shift. However, Jaylon Moore, the fifth-round tackle drafted to play guard at the NFL level, won the 49ers’ swing tackle position and has shown considerable upside. He too has much more development to go, but there’s real value with his spot as a backup.

Take a bona fide stud at left tackle, add two to three above-average starters and some interesting pieces around them, and emerges an offensive line that might do the Niners proud this year.