Considering the San Francisco 49ers‘current cap space situation, there’s a need for efficient and versatile players across the roster.
The kind of talent that can assist at multiple positions or areas of the field can save money and improve the team, with examples like “wide back” Deebo Samuel coming to mind on offense.
One area the 49ers will have to juggle talent and money issues is on the offensive line. With Laken Tomlinson set to be an unrestricted free agent, Daniel Brunskill becoming a restricted free agent, and Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey commanding $24.91 million in cap space in 2022 per Spotrac, there are multiple factors going into setting up the offensive line this offseason.
For The Athletic’s David Lombardi, San Francisco needs to bring back Brunskill, who started in all 20 games in the 2021 season.
“Curious to see how the 49ers deal with Daniel Brunskill,” Lombardi Tweeted. “Who’s slated to become a restricted free agent. Over The Cap values Brunskill at $4.2 million — the second-round tender this season is right about $4 million. I don’t think SF is in position to lose versatile O-linemen.”
Brunskill has been a mainstay on the line since his arrival in 2019, and has gone 36 games without missing a start in the last two seasons.
ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here!
The key to Lombardi’s take is not that Brunskill is an integral part of the offensive line, but that San Francisco aren’t going to find much better value than the 28-year-old.
As mentioned, Over the Cap values the offensive lineman at $4.259 million for 2021, so the second-round tender for 2022 (which pays $3.986 million) is a solid value. Brunskill can play at pretty much any position on the interior offensive line, and his starting experience is hard to knock.
The 49ers have a developing talent in Aaron Banks, who was taken in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft. Banks got a chance to compete for a starting guard spot, but San Francisco elected to stick with Brunskill. In an ideal world, Banks would make the jump this offseason to becoming a starter.
If that happens, paying $4 million or so to Brunskill would feel more like an insurance policy considering he’d be a backup. However, San Francisco knows what they have with Brunskill, which makes letting him loose more difficult.
49ers Fans Fire Back
While Lombardi thinks bringing back Brunskill should be a priority, not everyone agrees. Fans in the replies to the insider’s Tweet varied in reaction, but there were more than a couple who think the team needs to let Brunskill walk.
@fluffyskg instead thinks veteran center Alex Mack is most vital, with the 36-year-old bringing strong play and teaching experience.
“I don’t think anyone is paying Brunskill $4m per. He hasn’t put that kind of money on tape. Just my hunch. Mack is the key. If he plays another year and can bring Brendel along, and they think Banks has a shot to play next year, they can put a low tender on Brunskill.”
An account referred to as “Kyle Shanahan‘s Burner” thinks the 49ers should only pay the minimum if Brunskill wants to stick around.
“i would give him 800K and call it a day,” @KyleShanahan12 Tweeted.
@AFNinerFan turned Lombardi’s phrasing against him to make his point, which is that Brunskill just isn’t up to par.