When the 2018 season began there was much intrigue regarding the 49ers offensive line. They brought in three new starters and had high expectations for the season.
They started the season going up against some of the best pass-rushing units in the NFL and stumbled to a 1-2 start. The season took an ugly turn in Week 3 when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL and was ruled out for rest of the season. To make matters worse were the injuries the offensive line has dealt with throughout the season.
Joe Staley, Weston Richburg, and Mike Person have all missed practice time due to various injuries. While Richburg is the only one in the group to miss a game and Staley missed the second half of the Chargers game the injuries have tested the unit.
The 49ers have limped to a 2-8 record as the offensive line has battled the rigors of an NFL season. This is the report card for each member of the 49ers offensive line at the Week 11 bye.
Left Tackle, Joe Staley: B-
Early in the season, Staley struggled with containing his assignments outside of the pocket. He has since settled down and is once again the 49ers most consistent pass protector. Lately, his main weakness has been blocking for sweep plays.
Left Guard, Laken Tomlinson: C
Laken Tomlinson has done well creating holes for the 49ers running backs to run through. The 49ers quarterbacks are safe with his pass blocking. However, he has struggled to get an angle on defenders on sweep plays as well.
Center, Weston Richburg: C
Richburg has done reasonably well as the 49ers center. The running game has flourished at times due to his leadership and blocking ability. Interior defensive linemen seldom get to the quarterback when he is pass blocking. He tends to have problems against more explosive defensive linemen. This is especially emphasized in the red zone where defensive linemen usually fight a little bit harder to defend their end zone.
Right Guard, Mike Person: C
The 49ers use a wide variety of running to confuse the defense. Guards are among the most valuable blockers for a running back and can make difference in the game with effective blocking.
The 49ers have sporadically run to the right side for the majority of the season but Week 10 saw them using the right guard more than usual. What makes this so important is that there were no lost yards on that side of the field. Person has been dealing with a variety of injuries for much of the season but has not missed a game.
Right Tackle, Mike McGlinchey: C-
Early in the season, Mike McGlinchey struggled to stay with his assignments outside of the pocket. He also struggled with picking up complicated blitz packages as NFL defenses feasted on his rookie inexperience. He has since improved but still needs some polish against some of the NFL’s elite pass rushers.
McGlinchey is becoming one of the 49ers leading blockers on run plays. The best example is the Raiders game where he led the charge downfield with running back Raheem Mostert for a 52-yard touchdown run. Mostert was well protected throughout the run and McGlinchey showed the nation what kind of player he can become in the NFL.