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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The emergence of Tom Compton fuels 49ers’ dominant run game

Jan 18, 2022 at 5:48 PM--

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The forecast for Saturday's NFC Divisional Round playoff game in Green Bay is slated to be zero degrees at kickoff. The inclement weather is likely to take the "air out of the ball," thus making the game a battle of winning at the line of scrimmage. This type of game is one that the 49ers welcome because they have been dominant on both the defensive and offensive lines. The unsung hero of the 49ers' offensive line and powerful run game is tackle Tom Compton. His emergence has coincided with the 49ers re-establishing their offensive identity.

To put Tom Compton's improvement in proper context, we must look back at his tenure with the 49ers. Compton was signed during the 2020 offseason and struggled during games. He notched only three starts and appeared in seven games during his first campaign with his new club. Early reports coming into this season were not favorable, with many feeling that his only positive was the versatility to play both guard and tackle.

To Compton's credit, he did not have a typical offseason before the 2020 season because the NFL was adjusting to the new COVID-19 mandates. When you add that to the sophistication of the always-evolving Kyle Shanahan offense, it is easy to argue that some reporters should have given him the benefit of the doubt. Luckily for Compton, the 49ers brass did.

The 49ers' decision to keep him on the final 53-man roster coming out of training camp has paid off. In Week 9, starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey's season ended due to a torn quadricep, and Compton finished the game. The 49ers gave the start to Jaylon Moore the following week before Compton took hold of the position in Week 12 versus the Minnesota Vikings.

In Compton's Week 12 start, the 49ers rushed for 208 yards en route to three rushing scores. Since Compton has been inserted as a starter, San Francisco has racked up 1,103 total rushing yards for an average of 137.9 rushing yards per game during this span. Compton's play has caught the attention of Pro Football Focus. His consistent play has earned him high marks from the analytics site's grading metrics, particularly in the run game.

While Compton's versatility is what the 49ers coveted when they decided to hang on to him coming out of training camp, it appears that focusing on one position has accelerated the offensive lineman's growth. Being essentially a utility lineman for the 49ers before taking over at right tackle, Compton appears to be playing "faster" now that his game-day role is more defined. In addition to his dominant play, Compton has been remarkably consistent. Compton has played in 100 percent of the 49ers' offensive snaps since becoming the starter in late November.

As the team prepares to go into Green Bay looking for an upset of the top-seeded Packers, Tom Compton and the ground game will be the offensive catalyst if the 49ers pull off the win.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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