49ers Lose Key Contributor to Re-Tooling AFC South Stalwarts: Report

Daniel Brunskill, Jake Brendel, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Daniel Brunskill and Jake Brendel lining up for the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks.

After spending the last four seasons as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Daniel Brunskill, the team’s utility offensive lineman capable of playing all five positions, has signed a two-year contract with the Tennessee Titans, according to reporting from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Initially signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons after a collegiate career playing for the San Diego State Aztecs, Brunskill didn’t see regular playing time as a pro until the spring of 2019, when he signed with the San Diego Fleet of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. From there, Brunskill signed with the 49ers with no long-term guarantee of a roster spot, let alone playing time, but against the odds, the then-25-year-old made the roster and actually appeared in 14 games right out of the gate.

Over his four-year run with the 49ers, Brunskill appeared in 61 regular season games with 42 starts. He logged snaps at all five offensive line positions and served as a rotational right guard with Spencer Burford, but struggled down the stretch after some strong opening appearances to start off his rookie season.

Titans Fans Expect Daniel Brunskill to Start at Guard

Evaluating Brunskill’s fit with the Titans from a Tennessee fan’s perspective, of Music City Miracles noted that the jack-of-all-trades offensive lineman may initially get a look at right guard in order to play in place of departed right guard Nate Davis, who has signed with the Chicago Bears according to reporting from Ian Rapoport.

“Brunskill is extremely versatile,” Melo wrote. “Brunskill appeared in 14 regular-season contests in 2022. His snap breakdown was as follows, per Pro Football Focus: 442 right guard, 108 left guard, 36 right tackle, 23 center. Brunskill will start at one of the three interior positions. Right guard will likely be Brunskill’s position in Tennessee. It’s been his primary position, and the Titans lost starting right guard Nate Davis earlier this week.

“Brunskill is awfully familiar with Tennessee’s offensive system. The Titans are expected to continue running a variation of the zone-based system that Matt LaFleur first introduced in 2018. Tennessee’s offense derives from the Shanahan coaching tree, which makes Brunskill an excellent fit.”

While losing Brunskill will certainly test the 49ers’ depth in 2023, the 49ers didn’t lose all of their unrestricted free agent offensive linemen as Jake Brendel, the team’s starting center in 2022, has unofficially agreed to return to the team that took a chance on him in free agency two years prior.

The San Francisco 49ers Capitalized on Jake Brendel’s Market

After some, like The Athletic’s David Lombardi, suggested that Jake Brendel‘s market “seemed to be surging” and that as a result, the 49ers might not be able to retain the Pro Bowl alternative, John Lynch worked his magic and brought back the UCLA product on a new four-year deal worth up to $20 million with $8 million guaranteed, a league source confirmed to The Athletic.

Of the five centers who have signed contracts so far, Brendel has the lowest AAV at $5 million, with Jason Kelce signing for the highest values, $14.5 million, in what could be his final contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to Spotrac.

Did Brendel’s market fail to materialize? Or did he decide to take a discount from San Francisco in order to keep playing in a scheme that made him a hot commodity on the open market in the first place? Fans will likely find out soon enough when John Lynch addresses the media once free agency actually opens up.

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