The 49ers potentially suffered a huge roster blow with news of Alex Mack retiring, meaning the offensive line is a major question mark entering 2022.
It’s less than ideal.
The 36 year old who spent one season with the Niners in 2021 creates a notable void right in the middle of a reworked offensive line that already lost Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson this offseason to NFL free agency. And while San Francisco can count upon the perennial Pro Bowl talent of left tackle Trent Williams, he’s about the only net-plus option head coach Kyle Shanahan has without any question marks.
In fact, there were plenty of reasons to be concerned about the O-line entering 2022 anyway, and Mack’s retirement only serves to highlight those woes more so this offseason.
So, what specifically are the concerns beyond just Mack’s retirement?
Let’s take a look.
49ers offensive line concern No. 4: Alex Mack’s replacement
We should get the obvious concern out of the way right from the get-go. The 49ers are going to struggle to replicate the Pro Bowl prowess of Mack, who anchored the interior of the Niners O-line over the duration of 2021.
This is important, especially with San Francisco transitioning to second-year quarterback Trey Lance and boasting the need to keep him adequately protected in his first full year as a starter.
Sure, the 49ers could explore some off-roster contingency plans, such as free-agent J.C. Tretter. But, for the immediate future, the only real options they have is to promote backup center Jake Brendel into the starting job, move right guard Daniel Brunskill over or ask an undrafted rookie like Dohnovan West to proverbially “sink or swim” in a featured role.
None of these are particularly ideal. West, for example, is a rookie. Enough said. Brendel, despite being in the league since 2016, has started only three regular-season games and has primarily served as a backup or training camp body.
Moving Brunskill over subsequently creates another void needing to be filled at right guard.
Yeah, not ideal.