Through the first two weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterbacks, Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, have been the beneficiaries of the best pass blocking in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
Surprising? Maybe a tad, depending on who you ask, but the numbers don’t lie. Despite having a serious red flag in the center of their offensive line by the name of Jake Brendel, who ranks out as the sixth-worst center in the NFL, every other member of the Niners’ offensive line has a pass-blocking grade of at least 71.2, with Spencer Burford ranking fourth among guards with a pass-blocking grade of 83.7 and Aaron Banks following close behind with an 82.2.
While the Niners’ run defense hasn’t been quite as effective, ranking 17th with a 61.4 team grade, maintaining a clean pocket has become even more of a priority from Week 3 on, as Garoppolo isn’t going to evade sacks with his legs and keep the play alive behind the line of scrimmage.
Daniel Brunskill Is Still Out for the 49ers
After being ruled out of action for Week 2 with a lingering hamstring injury, Brunskill did not practice for the 49ers on Wednesday, September 21st, joining Arik Armstead, Tyrion Davis-Price, Tyler Kroft, and Trent Williams as DNPs, according to Tracy Sandler of Fangirl Sports.
Though Williams’ absence was due to rest and is unlikely to miss the Niners’ Week 3 game against the Broncos, Armstead, Davis-Price, Kroft, and Brunskill appear far less likely to be wearing uniforms in Denver, if they make the trip at all.
Fortunately, George Kittle was on the field for practice on Wednesday but was a limited participant in on-field activities. While this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the All-Pro tight end will be back on the field for Week 3, getting him back will elevate the Niners’ offense considerably when he’s actually able to go.
Kyle Shanahan Expects Jimmy Garoppolo’s Return to Be Seemless
When asked about how Garoppolo will assimilate back into the 49ers’ offense and forge quick chemistry with new wide receivers like Ray-Ray McCloud and Danny Grey, Kyle Shanahan shrugged off the question.
“I do think that stuff’s a little overrated,” Shanahan told the team’s official website. “If they’re open, he’s usually going to hit them. When people come, people have to get used to things because people don’t always run routes the way that we have all of our guys do it. Sometimes that takes time, but you mainly train the guys in the offense and then they get very similar. Jimmy’s been used to all the other wideouts and those guys are fitting in just fine.”
Regardless of whether or not Kittle is ultimately able to return to the field in Week 3, Garoppolo’s top targets will be Jauan Jennings, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel at wide receiver, Kyle Juszczyk at fullback, Charlie Woerner at tight end, and Jeff Wilson, all of whom were fixtures of the 49ers offense in 2021. That continuity paid dividends in Week 2 and will certainly continue to do so in Week 3 and beyond as well.