49ers 2021 Roster Preview: Interior Offensive Line

The additions of Alex Mack and Aaron Banks could prove to be the keys to the turnaround of 49ers offense.
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With the start of training camp now less than two weeks away, this is the perfect time to take a look at every player on the San Francisco 49ers roster, and how they fit with the team heading into training camp. So far, we’ve covered the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Today we will take a look at the interior offensive line.

Alex Mack

The 49ers signed the 12-year veteran early in free agency. Despite his age, Mack is still capable of playing at a high level and has missed only two games the past six seasons. This is one of the most important traits that Mack brings with him.

Last season saw musical chairs at the center and right guard position, and with that came a lack of communication and missed calls. Mack has experience playing under Kyle Shanahan, and his presence should give the offensive line the signal caller that it missed throughout 2020.

Aaron Banks

Although he weighs in at 338 pounds and is 6’5”, Banks shows the ability to move well in space. Banks is a punishing run blocker that can move defenders off the line of scrimmage at the point of attack while also having the athleticism to get to linebackers at the second level.

The most impressive aspect of his play and where he will likely help out Mike McGlinchey the most however is his pass protection. Banks was a dominant pass blocker during his time at Notre Dame.

Laken Tomlinson

If anyone benefitted from the struggles of the right side of the 49ers offensive line in 2020, it would be Laken Tomlinson. While the majority of the attention surrounding the porous offensive line has centered around McGlinchey, many fail to remember that it was a missed block by Tomlinson that led to the hit in week two on Jimmy Garoppolo that would sideline the quarterback for the majority of the season with a high ankle sprain.

The overall play of the seven-year veteran definitely took a step back last season. Despite allowing only three sacks on the year, there were a number of missed assignments in both the run game and pass protection that stymied the performance of the offense.

Tomlinson is entering the final year of the contract extension that he signed after being acquired from the Detroit Lions in a 2017 trade. Tomlinson will be only 29 next year, and will be playing for a new contract.

Daniel Brunskill

In his second season with the 49ers, Brunskill once again showed the versatility that earned him a spot on the roster in 2019. Originally slated to play right guard, injuries to Weston Richburg and Ben Garland forced Brunskill to practice at center for the majority of training camp. When the season finally got underway, Brunskill would be sent back to right guard, where he would start the first eight games of the season, before being moved back to center for the final eight games.

Despite all of the bouncing around between positions, Brunskill held up fairly well. 2021 looks to be much of the same for Brunskill. While his primary focus will likely be as the backup to Mack at center, Brunskill will be in the mix as a backup at right guard and tackle as well.

Jaylon Moore

The 6’4”, 311-pound offensive lineman was originally recruited to Western Michigan as a tight end. He would spend some time along the defensive line before moving to the offensive line where he started every game in 2018. While Moore was a tackle for the Broncos, he has the ability to play at either guard or tackle in the NFL. Look for Moore to be a swing tackle that can fill in at every spot along the offensive line outside of center.

Others: Isaiah Williams, Senio Kelemete, Jake Brendel, Dakoda Shepley, Tom Compton, Corbin Kaufusi

2021 Outlook:

The additions of Mack and Banks could prove to be the keys to the turnaround of 49ers offense. Mack should provide stability and leadership for the entire offensive line. Having a seasoned “quarterback” calling the signals for this group will make everyone better.

The one question mark in the middle of the offensive line is Banks. As a rookie there is no guarantee that of how his play will translate to the NFL. If Banks can step in and become the dominant force inside against the pass rush that he was at Notre Dame, the 49ers quarterbacks should be able to stay upright a lot more often than they did in 2020.

With Tomlinson being in the final year of his contract, the 49ers may see the best that the veteran has to offer. Last season was a bit of a struggle for the veteran, but competing for a new contract along with Moore being brought in to provide a push may be just what San Francisco needs to get the most out of Tomlinson.