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Which 49ers Position Group Will Make the Biggest Leap in 2021?

Throughout this offseason, the San Francisco front office has made a number of changes to the roster in order to fill the gaps that played a large role in the misfortunes of last season.

One season after reaching the Super Bowl, the 49ers found themselves in an all too familiar situation in 2020 as injuries and poor play led to another season among the worst teams in the NFL. Throughout this offseason, the San Francisco front office has made a number of changes to the roster in order to fill the gaps that played a large role in the misfortunes of last season. This effort should lead to a positive leap forward for a number of position groups.

The position group that will most likely make the biggest step in 2021 will be the offensive line. Despite the perception, this group really didn’t fall off as much from 2019 as most believe. In fact, the 49ers offensive line allowed a lower percentage of sacks per attempts then it did during the Super Bowl run the year prior. Despite this, finishing in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed and losing two quarterbacks to injuries is unacceptable.

No group on a football team needs consistency more than the offensive line. While this unit is looked at as the biggest group, often affectionately referred to as “Hoggies,” their job is like a finely choreographed ballet in which every person needs to know and trust where the other will be at all times.

That lack of choreography due to the revolving door at center was the genesis of the issues up front in 2020. The center is considered to be the quarterback of the offensive line, and the constant bouncing between Daniel Brunskill, Hroniss Grasu and Ben Garland left the 49ers offensive line without a solid voice. With Brunskill originally slated to be the starter at right guard, the revolving door at center also led to instability at the right guard spot which may have contributed to the poor play of Mike McGlinchey.

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With the additions of Alex Mack through free agency and Aaron Banks in the draft, San Francisco hopes to have solved the issues up front.

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. Mack has experience playing under Kyle Shanahan, and his presence should have a positive effect across the offensive line.

Although he weighs in at 338 pounds and is 6’5”, Banks shows the ability to move well in space. The most impressive aspect to 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.

These two additions, along with the continuity from re-signing Trent Williams and bringing back Laken Tomlinson and Mike McGlinchey, should allow this group to finish ranked among the top 5 to 10 offensive lines in the NFL and make things easier for whichever quarterback lines up under center in 2021.