49ers position battle No. 1: Offensive line
Players in the mix: Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Daniel Brunskill, Spencer Burford*, Alfredo Gutierrez, Alex Mack, Mike McGlinchey, Colton McKivitz, Jaylon Moore, Jason Poe*, Justin Skule, Sam Schlueter*, Keaton Sutherland, Dohnovan West*, Trent Williams, Nick Zakelj*
Of all of San Francisco’s positional groups entering 2022, few have as many question marks as the offensive line.
The questions are simple but serious:
- Can Aaron Banks adequately replace Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson?
- Will Alex Mack retire?
- Is there a clear-cut upgrade over Daniel Brunskill
- Will Mike McGlinchey return 100 percent after tearing his quad a year ago?
The 49ers did spend considerable effort restocking the depth here, first by grabbing both Spencer Burford and Nick Zakelj in the draft, then doubling down by grabbing a very draftable Dohnovan West in undrafted free agency.
West might project to be a long-term replacement for Mack, should the latter hang up his cleats. But head coach Kyle Shanahan has long prioritized veterans at center, not rookies or second-year players.
Want your voice heard? Join the Niner Noise team!
That could point to Brunskill moving inside one more spot, thereby creating another void at right guard.
A year ago, depth was a major concern for the Niners O-line, and the new faces could push out returnees like Justin Skule, Colton McKivitz and Jaylon Moore.
Yet the biggest question mark is with Mack at center, and the hope is San Francisco won’t have to identify a solution immediately.