Daniel Brunskill

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Wilson, Rams

The 49ers were without Trent Williams on Monday, and while they won a fairly one-sided game over the Rams, it came with another tackle injury. Colton McKivitz became the latest 49er to sustain an MCL sprain. Like Elijah Mitchell and Azeez Al-Shaair, Kyle Shanahan expects his swing tackle to miss approximately eight weeks. Rookie Jaylon Moore, who replaced Williams against the Broncos while McKivitz was not at 100%, will be the next man up at left tackle.

That said, the 49ers demoted two-year right guard starter Daniel Brunskill because partly because they viewed him as an ideal swing backup. Shanahan said Brunskill will be considered for blindside fill-in duty, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News notes (via Twitter). Brunskill, who is in his fourth 49ers season, debuted Monday after missing the first three games due to injury. The former UDFA would inject some potentially necessary experience into the mix for a 49ers team still using a mostly unseasoned group of interior O-linemen this season.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Contract issues and a steady relationship deterioration drove the Seahawks to trade Russell Wilson, but the likely Hall of Fame-bound quarterback’s willingness to run also played a role in the team deciding to move on. The Seahawks believed Wilson’s willingness to use his legs would decrease as he aged, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. Wilson, 33, averaged 5.5 carries and 30 yards per game as a Seahawk and has been one of the best running QBs in NFL history. Wilson’s 4,740 career rushing yards are fourth all time among QBs — behind only Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Randall Cunningham. Wilson rushed for 849 yards in 2014 and topped 500 four more times — most recently in 2020. But in 2021, Seattle’s starter — albeit during a season in which he missed three games due to a finger injury — only rushed for 183 yards. Although the 11th-year veteran has been effective when scrambling as a Bronco, he has been reluctant to do so. Wilson, who has expressed a desire to extend his career into his 40s, has totaled 13 carries for 51 yards this season.
  • Williams does not expect to miss too much time. Given a four- to six-week timetable, the All-Pro left tackle told CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson he is “80% sure” he will beat that four-week mark (Twitter link). Williams, 34, suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3. Beating the timetable would mean a possible return for the 49ers’ Week 7 game against the Chiefs. San Francisco could certainly use its star blocker in that game, but judging by how the team is playing it with its batch of players rehabbing MCL sprains, it would not surprise if the team exercised caution with its valuable O-line asset.
  • 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner is back with the team after being away for several months, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. The 73-year-old assistant had been away from the team since undergoing two surgeries early this offseason. Turner has been an integral assistant for both Kyle and Mike Shanahan, being the Broncos’ running backs coach throughout the latter’s 14-year Denver stay. Turner has been with the 49ers since they hired Kyle Shanahan in 2017.
  • The Rams not only lost another interior offensive line starter Monday, when Coleman Shelton suffered a high ankle sprain, but they left San Francisco with starting safety Jordan Fuller out. The young defender is facing a two- to four-week absence to a hamstring strain, Sean McVay said.

49ers Looking Into O-Line Trades

After their offensive line included Laken Tomlinson and Alex Mack last season, the 49ers lost each in the offseason. Their right tackle situation also presents questions, with Mike McGlinchey presently shut down after experiencing an issue in his return from surgery.

This has left San Francisco with an inexperienced front alongside Trent Williams. As a result, the team has made trade inquiries, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. No deal appears imminent, and the 49ers will obviously monitor the waiver wire closely at this position after teams cut their rosters down to 53 Tuesday.

The team has another experienced piece up front, in two-year right guard starter Daniel Brunskill, but as of now, he is not a projected starter. San Francisco’s interior line is expected to consist of 2021 second-round pick Aaron Banks, veteran UDFA Jake Brendel and fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford, per Branch. Even Banks’ spot may be in question. The 49ers have been rotating Jason Poe, a rookie UDFA out of Division I-FCS Mercer, in place of Banks at points during this week’s practices, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes.

Kyle Shanahan did caution, with more than two weeks remaining until the 49ers’ opener, this group is not yet set. Colton McKivitz, a 2020 fifth-rounder who spent most of last season on the 49ers’ practice squad, is positioned as the team’s backup right tackle.

With Banks having played five offensive snaps as a rookie, Brendel having made three starts in six seasons and Burford a quick study from Conference USA, this represents a staggering shift for a team that advanced to the NFC championship game. Brendel has only logged 250 career offensive snaps.

Brunskill is also battling a hamstring injury. While a swing job may well await Brunskill, the team may need his experience soon. McGlinchey, who joins Brunskill in being on an expiring deal, appears to be week-to-week due to a knee issue. The fifth-year right tackle played eight snaps in the 49ers’ preseason opener, but he has not returned since. McGlinchey received a platelet-rich plasma treatment last week. The player who subbed for McGlinchey after his quadriceps tear last season, Tom Compton, signed with the Broncos in March.

The line Jimmy Garoppolo played behind appeared far more equipped than the one Trey Lance will have come Week 1. The 49ers will not be the only team looking to add O-linemen in the coming days, and their NFC title game cameo will make doing so more difficult. They sit 29th for waiver priority.

49ers OL Daniel Brunskill Suffers Hamstring Injury

49ers offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill suffered a hamstring injury during the team’s preseason victory over the Packers on Friday, as Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Head coach Kyle Shanahan indicated that the ailment will keep Brunskill on the sidelines for “a few weeks.”

It will be interesting to see if this injury has a domino effect on San Francisco’s O-line plans. Brunskill started all 17 regular season games at right guard for the Niners in 2021, but he has taken all of his training camp snaps at center. He and Jake Brendel have been battling to replace the retired Alex Mack at the pivot, and though previous reports indicated that the team does not plan to sign a free agent center, Brunskill’s injury could leave the club with plenty of inexperience up front.

While nine-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams is entrenched as the blindside blocker, 2021 second-rounder Aaron Banks is the presumptive starter at LG, and he appeared in only five offensive snaps in his rookie season (though Shanahan said Banks was ready to be a starter by the end of the year). With fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford penciled in as the starting RG, San Francisco is already planning to have two very green players at the guard positions. Although the majority of his snaps have come at guard, Brunskill at least has significant recent starting experience, and he saw 546 snaps at center in the 2020 season. Brendel, meanwhile, did not play at all in the 2019-20 campaigns, and he saw just six offensive snaps in 2021. He has accumulated a grand total of three career starts, all of which came with the Dolphins in 2018.

So a Banks-Brendel-Burford triumvirate in the middle of the line would perhaps represent a less-than-ideal scenario for second-year passer Trey Lance, and Brunskill’s prognosis could speculatively compel the team to look for outside help. J.C. Tretter and Matt Paradis are the most accomplished options on the free agent market, and while neither player has received confirmed interest in their services this offseason, the lack of suitors for Tretter could be explained by the stances he has taken as NFLPA president.

Presumably, a team with a major hole at center would overlook Tretter’s union-related work in order to fill that void, although the Browns may be back in play for their five-year starter now that Nick Harris is likely done for the season.

NFC West Rumors: Hopkins, Brunskill, Seahawks, Rams

While there was some contention in regards to the six-game suspension handed down to Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the NFLPA considers his case a closed issue, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. There was a sliver of hope that the ban may be reduced from six to four games, and Hopkins still believes there may be, but it seems all but certain that he will be out for all six.

With Hopkins out, Arizona’s receiving room will be led by trade acquisition Marquise Brown, veteran A.J. Green, and second-year player Rondale Moore. The depth gets pretty thin behind those three with Andy Isabella, Antoine Wesley, and Greg Dortch on the roster, among a few others. The Cardinals also shopped Isabella earlier this year.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with a note out of the Bay Area:

NFC West Notes: Rams, Cards, 49ers, Hawks

Van Jefferson‘s second 2022 surgery will shut him down for weeks. In their No. 3 wide receiver’s stead, the Rams are using the likes of second-round pick Tutu Atwell, veteran backup Ben Skowronek, converted tight end Jacob Harris and fifth-year return specialist Brandon Powell, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Of course, the Rams have also been linked — mostly by their own words — to a second Odell Beckham Jr. contract.

We’ll look at those guys and then we’ll continue to see if we can figure out when Odell will come back at some point as well,” Sean McVay said.

Jefferson’s surgery went well, Rodrigue tweets, adding a Week 1 return should be realistic. Although the Rams signed Beckham when Robert Woods was still healthy, Jefferson’s role was not threatened after the latter’s injury. He finished his sophomore NFL slate with 50 receptions, 802 yards (nearly quadrupling rookie-year total) and six touchdowns. Although Beckham coming back and joining Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson would threaten Jefferson’s playing time, the third-year receiver should have a firm grip on the WR3 job for a bit.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Activated off the non-football injury list Tuesday, Marquise Brown found himself in off-field trouble several hours later. The recently acquired Cardinals wide receiver was arrested on a criminal speeding charge and booked in the Maricopa County Jail. The arrest occurred at 7:05am Wednesday in north Phoenix, according to Jose Romero of the Arizona Republic. Brown was traveling from his home to the Cards’ facility, per Kliff Kingsbury. Brown, acquired in a draft-weekend deal that saw the Cardinals’ first-round pick change hands, faces a potential suspension under the personal conduct policy purview.
  • D.J. HumphriesCardinals extension is for three years and $51.8MM, Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger tweets. This deal comes with a $17MM signing bonus, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Humphries’ 2022 cap number will also drop from $19.9MM to $12.6MM, creating some additional space for the Cards. Humphries’ extension is worth a bit more than his previous contract (three years, $44.3MM), but it comes in eighth among left tackles for AAV.
  • The 49ers may go with two unseasoned guards this year. They have been using fourth-round rookie Spencer Burford exclusively as their first-string right guard, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. If the Texas-San Antonio product can stick at this position, it could relocate two-year San Francisco right guard starter Daniel Brunskill to center, where he is battling veteran backup Jake Brendel to take over for Alex Mack. Buford is vying to join Aaron Banks as a guard starter. The 2021 second-round pick logged five offensive snaps as a rookie but looks to have a firm grip on the 49ers’ left guard gig in camp.
  • The SeahawksReuben Foster workout does not look to signal an immediate signing, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. This appears to be a case of the Seahawks kicking the tires on the former first-round pick. Foster has not played in a game since the 2018 season. Although Washington claimed the once-high-profile linebacker during the 2018 season, he never played a down for the team. An ACL tear during Washington’s 2019 offseason program led the Alabama product out of the league. However, the Seahawks are the fifth team to work out Foster since his Washington contract expired following the 2020 season. The Jets, Jaguars, Browns and Dolphins have also brought him in.
  • Former Jets quarterback James Morgan also worked out for the Seahawks, auditioning Thursday. The team, which is holding a long-scrutinized Geno SmithDrew Lock competition, is not planning an immediate Morgan signing, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. A Green Bay native, Morgan, 25, also worked out for the Packers recently.

49ers Not Planning To Sign Free Agent C

As they attempt to replace Laken Tomlinson and Alex Mack, the 49ers are light on experience. For now, that is not fazing the team. San Francisco is not planning to chase a free agent upgrade at center, Kyle Shanahan said during minicamp.

The 49ers turned to Jake Brendel as their first-teamer throughout OTAs and have continued this setup at minicamp. Brendel would be an atypical solution. The former UDFA turns 30 before Week 1 and has made three career starts — all as a fill-in with the 2018 Dolphins. Offensive line coach Chris Foerster was Brendel’s position coach during part of his Miami tenure. The 49ers are Brendel’s fifth team.

Mack retirement rumors lingered for weeks, and Shanahan said the coaching staff had been expecting the 13-year veteran to hang up his cleats since March. Mack’s mid-offseason retirement comes two years after Joe Staley did the same. The 49ers moved aggressively to replace Staley, trading for Trent Williams soon after. J.C. Tretter and Matt Paradis would are available, but free agency is not San Francisco’s Mack replacement plan.

We didn’t want to make it a big thing and go chase stuff, especially when the player that we have in here has done a good job and has shown us in here that he can do it,” Shanahan said, via David Lombardi of The Athletic (subscription required). “… You know all the veterans out there. We’ve had an idea about it for a while, so we’ve been looking at all situations, and right now, we feel like we’re doing the best one for us.”

Shanahan’s praise notwithstanding, Brendel has played six offensive snaps in the past three years. The UCLA alum is not the only option here, but he seems poised to enter training camp as the clear favorite. The 49ers signed Keaton Sutherland, who played in one game with the Bengals last season, and drafted Nick Zakelj in Round 6. Zakelj finished his Fordham career as a tackle, but Lombardi notes the 49ers view him as a possible long-term center option.

The prospect of right guard Daniel Brunskill sliding over is not out of the question, either, with second-year tackle convert Jaylon Moore competing at right guard as well. But Brunskill’s 35 straight guard starts suddenly look important for interior-line continuity purposes. Second-round pick Aaron Banks (five 2021 offensive snaps) is set to take over for Tomlinson, a five-year 49ers starter, at left guard.

No matter who wins the center job, the 49ers will move to their fourth primary snapper in four years. Weston Richburg‘s late-2019 injury — what became a career-ending malady — threw the team’s pivot plans off course.

Jake made our team last year as a backup center,” Shanahan said. “In order to do that, you’ve got to believe they have an ability to start. We had a lot of confidence last year in Jake to make the team. If Mack would’ve ever missed a game or something, we wouldn’t have hesitated and we would’ve gone into that game very confident with him. We also have guys like Brunskill who has done it before, and I think we have some young guys who can do it.”

Latest On 49ers’ Offensive Line Situation

Last year saw the 49ers advance to their second NFC Championship game in the last three years, but the offensive line that took them there is set to look a bit different as San Francisco readies for the 2022 NFL season. The 49ers’ left guard for the last five seasons, Laken Tomlinson, is now a Jet, Tom Compton, who started seven regular season games and all three playoff games at right tackle for the team when Mike McGlinchey went down with an injury last year, is now in Denver, and last year’s starting center, Alex Mack, officially announced his retirement this week. 

San Francisco should be set at left tackle and right guard with 12-year veteran Trent Williams manning the blindside and Daniel Brunskill starting just right of center for the past two seasons. Though Compton, who played well in his time as an injury-replacement last year, is gone, the 49ers do return McGlinchey from injury to fill the right tackle spot. McGlinchey is heading into a contract year and will try to earn himself a solid second deal with his production this season. He’s been strong while run-blocking in his career, but started off with some struggles in pass-protection. McGlinchey was showing some improvement in his pass-pro before his injury last season, and the 49ers will likely give him a chance to show he can be the whole package.

With those three spots manned, the conversation now turns to left guard and center. The favorite to fill in at left guard is 2021 second-round draft pick Aaron Banks. Banks was slowed in his rookie-season by a preseason shoulder injury, leading to him appearing in nine games but only seeing five offensive snaps last season, getting most of his playing time on special teams. McGlinchey’s former-teammate at Notre Dame made tremendous progress throughout the season, though. Head coach Kyle Shanahan even said that Banks could have replaced Brunskill in the lineup late last season, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. The team held off on making that switch as they surged into the postseason with plenty of success, but with an opening at guard this year, it’s hard to imagine Banks not getting his opportunity.

At center, the options are much less clear-cut. With Mack gone, the only player on the roster with an NFL start at center is former undrafted free agent Jake Brendel, who started three games for the Dolphins in 2018. Brendel has been taking first-team snaps at center in practices, according to another article from Branch. General manager John Lynch claims that the team has “a lot of confidence in (Brendel’s) ability,” despite Brendel not being “a household name.” The 49ers also brought in their own undrafted rookie this year in Dohnovan West, who was Arizona State’s starting center all three years of his collegiate career.

Unless San Francisco plans to try some other rostered offensive line reserves at center this year, they may need to go to the free agent market. This would continue a trend that Lynch and the Niners have followed over the past few years of signing an impact free agent interior lineman in the weeks after the Draft. 2017 saw the addition of eventual starting right guard Brandon Fusco in early May, 2018 saw the addition of eventual starting right guard Michael Person in early May, and 2019 saw the addition of part-time starting center Ben Garland in late April.

Available free agent centers include NFLPA president J.C. Tretter, former Broncos and Panthers center Matt Paradis, former Bengals starting center Trey Hopkins, and former Texans lineman Nick Martin. Lynch may mean what he says and Brendel may be their man in the middle, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 49ers act on some of the available experience out there on the market.

With three spots filled with experienced starters and two very real options to fill the other two spots, San Francisco is on their way to building their offensive line for next season. Whether the five lineman running with the first team now will be the Week 1 starters is yet to be seen, but Lynch and Shanahan are aware of their options and may not be done addressing the position group just yet.

OL Notes: Giants, Radunz, Steelers, Brunskill

After fielding another below-average offensive line last season, one that saw key injuries reconfigure it early on in the campaign, the Giants loaded up on blockers this offseason. Newcomers Evan Neal, Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano are projected to start at right tackle, right guard and center, respectively. Andrew Thomas is the team’s unquestioned left tackle. That leaves left guard as the top competition area. Holdover Shane Lemieux appears to be the favorite for that job, via NJ.com’s Zack Rosenblatt, who notes the third-year player has been a full participant despite coming off a patellar tendon tear that cost him 16 games last season. Lemieux, who started down the stretch for the 2020 Giants and has received the first reps with the starters thus far, attempted to play through the severe knee injury in Week 1 but ended up missing the season’s remainder.

The Joe SchoenBrian Daboll regime, however, brought in third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu (North Carolina). Although Max Garcia arrived this offseason as well, Rosenblatt adds the Giants view the eighth-year veteran as more of a backup. This sets up a Lemieux-Ezeudu left guard battle, one that will determine if the Giants have three or four new starters up front.

Here is the latest from the NFL’s O-line scene:

  • The Titans lost two starters from their 2021 O-line — left guard Rodger Saffold and stopgap right tackle David Quessenberry — and are aiming to plug in former second-round pick Dillon Radunz. The North Dakota State product, who made just one start as a rookie, is vying for the team’s right tackle gig but also factors into the guard mix, Jim Wyatt of Titans.com offers. Radunz, chosen a year after would-be right tackle Isaiah Wilson became a quick bust, was a full-timer for the Bison from 2018-19 but lost the 2020 season due to the pandemic. The Titans used a third-round pick on Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere, representing another right tackle option. Third-year UDFA Aaron Brewer and ex-Seahawk Jamarco Jones are on the roster as left guard candidates.
  • Daniel Brunskill has started 35 straight regular-season games for the 49ers, slotting primarily at right guard. The fourth-year veteran has shown an ability to fill in at all five O-line spots, and Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes the 49ers would prefer Brunskill as a super-sub rather than as the full-time starter. For this reality to unfold, the team would need a viable replacement. Jaylon Moore, a 2021 fifth-round pick who has moved inside from tackle, represents competition for the 49ers’ right guard position. Given Brunskill’s experience, benching him would be quite the gamble for a team that lost five-year left guard Laken Tomlinson in free agency and looks set to lose center Alex Mack to retirement.
  • Steelers newcomers James Daniels and Mason Cole look set to play right guard and center, respectively, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo, leaving a competition between two 2021 starters at left guard. The Steelers following through on the rumored move of center Kendrick Green to guard, his primary college position, has created a competition between he and Kevin Dotson — a 13-game starter through two years. Pro Football Focus graded Dotson well as a rookie, albeit in a small sample size, but an ankle injury doomed his sophomore NFL season. Green started 15 games last year; PFF graded the rookie third-rounder as one of the league’s worst centers. Given a three-year, $15.75MM deal, Cole coming to Pittsburgh has led to Green’s position switch.

RFA/ERFA Tender Signings: 4/19/22

Here’s a look at the latest tender signings from around the NFL:

RFAs

Signed:

ERFAs

Signed:

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Watt, 49ers

After starting 16 games for the Cowboys last season, Aldon Smith has seen his career veer off track again. The Seahawks cut the talented edge defender last week, and Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes the team did not do so because of Smith’s on-field work. This was a non-football-related exit for Smith, whom Pete Carroll said (via the Tacoma News Tribune’s Greg Bell; video link) “couldn’t hang with” the Seahawks despite the team giving the suspension risk a “real shot.” The Seahawks signed Smith in April, but shortly after that agreement, the 32-year-old pass rusher was booked on a battery charge. He also was not in good enough shape to participate in Seattle’s June minicamp, raising more red flags about his 2021 viability. Smith was out of football from 2016-19, but Roger Goodell greenlit his reinstatement last year. Smith recorded five sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown with Dallas.

Here is more from Seattle and the latest from elsewhere in the NFC West:

  • The third and fourth seasons of Jamal Adamsfour-year, $70MM extension do not include any guaranteed money, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. That said, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl safety will collect all but $2.56MM of his $38MM in guarantees by February 2022. Because of Adams’ $20MM signing bonus being spread throughout the deal, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, the 2021 cap hit will be just $5MM. Adams’ contract also includes $2.75MM in incentives. Adams can collect $250K for each season he notches the rare (for other safeties, but in play for him) five-sack, three-interception double. The 25-year-old defender interestingly has just two career INTs, but he has met the sack requirement here twice — 6.5 in 2019, a safety-record 9.5 in 2020.
  • Aaron Banks had a good chance to become a 49ers starting guard in Week 1, but his lineup path will be delayed. The second-round pick suffered a shoulder injury in San Francisco’s first preseason game; he will be sidelined for as many as three weeks. While the Iowa product should be healthy at some point in September, Matt Barrows of The Athletic writes (subscription required) that this should allow Daniel Brunskill to keep his starting right guard spot come Week 1. Brunskill started all 16 49ers games at right guard last season.
  • The Cardinals won the J.J. Watt sweepstakes, but they hope to decrease the future Hall of Famer’s workload this season. They want Watt to play closer to 65% of their defensive snaps this season, rather than venturing into the 90% neighborhood, Jim Trotter of NFL.com notes. Despite his run of injuries in the late 2010s, Watt played 91% of the Texans’ snaps last season. In his seven non-injury-limited seasons, the five-time All-Pro played at least 88% of Houston’s defensive snaps. With Watt already dealing with a hamstring injury that will likely shelve him until Week 1, Arizona D-line coach Brentson Buckner is hoping to lighten his workload to maximize his productivity and extend his career.
  • After suffering a foot fracture for the second straight summer, Seahawks tight end Colby Parkinson received some good news. The break will not require surgery, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This will allow for a quicker return for the Stanford product. Prior to the setback, Parkinson was set to see time alongside Gerald Everett and Will Dissly this season.