According to the new CBA deal, clubs are allowed an extra offensive lineman for game day rosters as insurance against inevitable in-game injuries. This was coupled with the league’s decision to increase in-season rosters from 53 to 55.
That satisfies one side of the coin. The other, is the potential of a player testing positive for COVID during the season and the effects it could have on the roster.
With a number of uncertainties heading into the season, right tackle Mike McGlinchey believes versatility has become its own specialty amid coronavirus concerns.
“Versatility is going to be absolutely huge,” McGlinchey said. “It’s going to make or break guys having jobs and make or break situations to fill our roster because we can get in any situation at any point this year. We’re not just looking out for injury, we’re looking for something that we can’t really defend ourselves from at times.”
The 49ers are fortunate to see 21 of their 25 starters returning for the 2020 season. However, of their three departures on offense, two are along the offensive line. San Francisco needed to fill holes following the retirement of left tackle Joe Staley and right guard Mike Person. Additionally, San Francisco lost potential backups, Shon Coleman and Jake Brendel last week, both who opted out of 2020 season play amid coronavirus concerns.
San Francisco managed to replace one Pro Bowl talent with another by acquiring Trent Williams in a draft day trade with the Washington Football Team. Just a week into training camp, he’s already made an impression on his counter bookend.
“(Trent’s) been an unbelievable guy to work with over the last two weeks or so,” McGlinchey said. “Even just in walkthroughs, you get a little jaw dropped by how smooth and how much of an athlete he truly is at his size. It’s going to be cool to pick his brain over the next couple of weeks here going through training camp when live bullets start flying and seeing him back in action.”
As for the other vacancy along the offensive line, one of the 49ers glaring roster battles lies in the interior offensive line. According to McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill and Tom Compton have been in rotation at right guard through the first week of camp.
Brunskill joined the 49ers last offseason and made his first NFL start in place of McGlinchey, who missed time with a knee injury. Brunskill appeared in 14 games last season with seven starts, seeing snaps at both tackle positions and right guard. He allowed just nine quarterback pressures on 475 pass blocking attempts.
The 49ers signed Compton this offseason, who spent time with Kyle Shanahan with Washington and the Atlanta Falcons. Like Brunskill, he too, has spent time in multiple spots along the offensive line, in particular, left and right guard for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.
Whoever doesn’t earn the starting job still provides an immense value to the 49ers. Given the uniqueness of the unprecedented NFL season, there’s a premium on versatility, and that goes for every position on the roster.
“To be able to have the ability to plug and play guys in different positions at different times is really going to allow us to keep moving as smoothly as operationally possible,” McGlinchey added.