Insider Hints the Rams Could Snatch Away 3 Rival Players

Mike McGlinchey

Getty Mike McGlinchey of the San Francisco 49ers on January 1, 2023 in Las Vegas.

John Benton expecting to interview for the still open Los Angeles Rams offensive line coach position officially bears some watching from Ram fans. Because his possible hire, plus potential reunion with new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, could influence some momentum shifting free agent moves.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Sunday, February 5 that the former New York Jets OL coach is expected to meet with the Rams in the coming week. However, Matt Barrows of The Athletic threw in a San Francisco 49ers curveball to the news: A possible hire of Benton and re-linking with LaFleur could open the door for the Rams to make a beeline for three free agent offensive linemen from the Niners.

“Notable considering Benton’s/LaFleur’s background with the 49ers and how many SF offensive linemen are FAs next month,” Barrows posted while mentioning the following names: Mike McGlinchey, Jake Brendel and Daniel Brunskill.

The trench options for the 49ers are familiar with both Benton and LaFleur, as two of the linemen and the two coaches were together with the 49ers from 2017 to 2020. Here’s a closer look at how all three could solidify a struggling Rams offensive line.

McGlinchey is Considered Prized FA of the Trio, Hints His Time Could be Done

The 29-year-old McGlinchey gave a teary eyed interview with the Bay Area media as the 49ers were cleaning out their home locker rooms for the final time in the 2022 season.

McGlinchey said he hopes he can return. However, he said via KNBR: “I know it’s not always up to me. So, we’ll see how it goes. I hope for the best, but it’s the NFL. Anything can happen.”

McGlinchey manned right tackle opposite of All-Pro Trent Williams and became trusted for his run blocking: A 70.7 grade there per Pro Football Focus. The 6-foot-8, 310-pounder even cleared a lane by taking on two Dallas Cowboys defenders during one goal line touchdown in the 49ers’ playoff win.

But, his pass protection will need improvement after allowing six sacks his side. And with Benton, he had two seasons of surrendering five sacks and one involving six. But if Benton comes over, it could give the Rams more leverage to pursue McGlinchey.

Brendel Would Fill Immediate Need

One of the most decimated spots on a battered 2022 Rams offensive line was center — with the Rams going through Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton and needing to elevate Jeremiah Kolone from the practice squad.

The only difference with Brendel is that he was never had a season with Benton or LaFleur, as he showed up to the 49ers in 2020 but was a COVID-19 opt out. Brendel, since then, emerged as a valuable interior presence for a high-powered 49ers ground attack but also was among the best at protecting the passer — with just one sack allowed in 680 pass block attempts per PFF.

Brendel had a base salary of $1,035,000 in 2022 per Spotrac. At 30, he’s likely not going to command a high value. He could add depth or bolster the pass protection as a starter if brought in. Brendel also took on two defenders on the same play in 2022 — against the Rams in Week 4.

Brunskill Would Add Versatility

There were Rams who had to play in multiple line spots as the injuries stacked up.

Brunskill would’ve came in handy with his versatility, which is one of his strongest suits on the line. He manned right tackle, right guard and left guard for the 49ers during their run to the NFC title game.

But his strongest trait? Protecting the quarterback…with zero sacks his side on 337 pass protection plays.

With Benton on his side, Brunskill allowed two sacks in 2019 and four in 2020. In his first season without him, the sack numbers rose to five. But Brunskill improved drastically in pass protection and earned a 74 pass blocking grade. If the Rams — from head coach Sean McVay to the new OC — turn to free agency to shore up the front five blocking for Matthew Stafford and the QBs, then Brunskill would be a nice free agent option. And his possibility for the Rams increases if Benton is hired.

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