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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports identifies 49ers’ biggest roster hole heading into training camp

Jun 24, 2022 at 10:35 AM--

Videos are auto-populated by an affiliate. This site has no control over the videos that appear above. writer Kevin Patra took a look around the league and ranked the 10 biggest remaining roster holes heading into training camp. Some teams appear set for the 2022 season. Others still have work to do, finding solutions to bolster potential weaknesses.

Patra looked at each team's biggest weakness and ranked it against other teams' biggest weaknesses. The San Francisco 49ers came in at No. 2, with the center position being identified as the Bay Area team's biggest weakness.

Assuming right tackle Mike McGlinchey returns healthy, the 49ers appear set (as far as knowing who the starters will be) along the edges of the offensive line. The team has the best tackle in the game anchoring the side opposite McGlinchey. The interior, however, took a hit this offseason.

San Francisco lost left guard Laken Tomlinson to the New York Jets via free agency. Then veteran Alex Mack retired. The team is hoping Aaron Banks makes a second-year leap and succeeds Tomlinson.

The 49ers did little in free agency or the draft to address the potential loss of Mack. Of course, at that point, general manager John Lynch sounded more optimistic that Mack would return for his 14th NFL season.

The transition isn't ideal for second-year quarterback Trey Lance, who is preparing to enter his first NFL season as a full-time starter.

"Alex Mack's retirement this offseason put the Niners in a tough position at the pivot," wrote Patra. "The current choices are: veteran Jake Brendel, who played just six offensive snaps last season and hasn't started a game since 2018; Daniel Brunskill, who would move over from guard, creating another hole on the interior; rookie sixth-round pick Nick Zakelj, who played OT primarily in college; or undrafted rookie free agent Dohnovan West."

The 49ers seem high on Brendel, who was re-signed in March after spending last season as Mack's backup. He has played just 250 offensive snaps since entering the NFL in 2016. Nevertheless, he appears to be the frontrunner to take over.

Brunskill played 546 snaps at center for the 49ers in 2020, so he is undoubtedly experienced. The need to have him line up at right guard may be too great, though, depending on how the training camp battles trend.

As for the other options, the 49ers likely hope to avoid inserting a rookie at such a high-stakes position, especially with the growing pains Lance might undergo.

"The instability at center is especially concerning, given San Francisco is handing the reins over to Trey Lance this season," Patra continued. "Importing a veteran -- i.e., JC Tretter -- could be the best option to plug the gap without relying on inexperience at all three interior O-line spots."

49ers players report to training camp on July 26.

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