Kyle Shanahan shines light on OL’s indoor competitions for the 49ers

The 49ers need to iron out the inside of their offensive line. It’s the biggest question mark on their team that doesn’t directly include Trey Lance. They seem to be moving in the right direction for at least two of the three positions, with the third point still in the air.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan held a press conference prior to Friday’s training and discussed what’s happening on the team’s yet-to-be-proven offensive line.

There seems to be no doubt that Aaron Banks will be the left-hander. He took first-team representatives there, and was selected in the second round of last year’s draft to be a long-term starter for San Francisco. He spent the rest period reshaping his body and improving his athletic fitness to better handle the internal OL demands of the Shanahan system.

In the right guard, an unexpected candidate appeared. Spencer Burford, who picked the starter fourth round, held that spot throughout the camp with no real competitors showing up. This spot was thought to have been lost by Daniel Brunskill since he started there the last couple of years, but instead he was jostling Jake Brendel for the starting position. The right guard appears to be where Burford loses, but the team could quickly get Branscale back there.

“Spencer, he’s done an amazing job,” Shanahan said. “He has the skill set to do that, so it’s about getting reps and getting used to going against our D line and doing it indoors and out at that level. But he has the ability to do it at a high level. When you talk about Brunskill, Brunskill has been there for the two years The past two. We know what Dan can do. Everyone has to prove himself, sure, but getting plenty of reps for Dan won’t always help him. He needs to get through the season as healthy as he can. We also want to make sure he gets more reps. In the center because that’s what he’s had less than the last two years.”

So what about the center? Brendel was apparently the favorite in the camp, but the club clearly feel Brunskill could push him to be the top choice. Brunskill has more NFL experience than Brendel, although very little of it came in center, and the times he played weren’t necessarily stellar. However, he’s moved on to positions a few times in the NFL and has had success, which is why Shanahan would trust him to move on again if he had to.

“(Brendel) is the guy who got the first chance, but we also know Brunskill started guarding us at a high level,” Shanahan said. “He played in interference and Dan, really anything we ask of him, ends up finding him. And he plays at a good enough level to win it, so we have some good options.”

Ultimately though, Shanahan and offensive line coach Chris Foerster can’t get it all together from training. There is a level of competition and adversity that the games experience that the practice cannot replicate.

“We see practically every day now. We saw last year that we have guys in our building who are definitely capable of that,” Shanahan said. But our coach says it all the time, you don’t know if a player can play until they get kicked (butt) in a game, because that’s going to happen. It will happen a lot. Then how are you coming back next week? Are you upset? Are you kind of hiding, or do you rise to the occasion and learn how to handle it? And that’s really, to me, what it’s like to play the O-line in the NFL and you don’t know that until you give these guys those chances, but you have to believe in what the person made. And we’ve got the players mathematically and I also think we’ve got the character in this room to deal with these situations.”

While the 49ers don’t have any firm answers on the offensive line yet, things seem to be going in the right direction so far. The situation would be much worse if the club were constantly rotating players in all three positions in the hope that one of them would remain in the position. That could all change after the pre-season opener against the Packers on Friday when the 49ers coaching staff gets a real look at their streak in the state of the game. They will follow this up with actions against the Vikings in Minnesota next week.

If they’re still confident of this group at that point, their second biggest question about attacking will be answered before the second game before the start of the season.

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The story originally appeared on Niners Wire

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