49ers open practice windows for Jordan Reed, Tevin Coleman, K'Waun Williams, announce other roster moves →
Alert Follow us at @49erswz until Twitter fixes the issues with our official account.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


2017 and Beyond: The Three Most Important 49ers to Watch in Training Camp (Number Two)

Jul 26, 2017 at 7:00 AM0


49ers training camp is nearly here, and with it comes the opportunity for coaches, media, and fans alike to assess the team's roster. Through yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I'll name the three players I believe are the most important to the growth of the team moving forward. I'll make my case for each selection and what their performances could mean to the 49ers in the future. Yesterday, I identified the player I see as the third most important 49er to watch in 2017.

Trent Brown, the second most important 49er to watch this year, may make his biggest statement tomorrow when players report in for physicals. Brown has always been enormously talented (and simply enormous), with six feet and eight inches of height accompanying his three hundred and a (wildly varying) large two-digit number of pounds. His weight fluctuations and resulting stamina deficiencies have been the only impediment to an otherwise promising young career. If Brown shows up as fit as we can expect him to be, based on his appearance on social media posts in boxing workouts and Von Miller's pass rushing summit (a bit more on Miller later), he would have taken one giant step toward producing his breakout, superstar year.

While quarterback and left tackle are customarily the most important positions in any offense, the entire offensive line is tremendously important in Kyle Shanahan's offense, as it must sell run action perfectly during play action passing plays by firing out in unison as they would in an outside zone play. Left tackle tends to be the most difficult position to fill because that position routinely faces the most dangerous opposing pass rusher. With the emergence of elite right-side edge rushers, right tackle is becoming nearly as important as left tackle.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Tackle is additionally important in this offense because the reach block demanded of the playside tackle in outside zone runs is, in my opinion, the most difficult run block to execute in football, when there is no tight end to assist the tackle in gaining leverage. The tackle must aim to secure the edge defender's outside shoulder and decide within three steps if he can successfully pin the defender to the inside of the run play. If he determines that the defender is playing the outside aggressively enough to make reaching the shoulder unlikely, he must immediately transition to running the edge defender to the sideline to open up a large rushing lane between guard and tackle. This block requires excellent footwork (the edge defender is typically aligned at least half a man outside of the tackle), immediate and correct decision-making, and sufficient athleticism to transition blocking techniques while engaged. Granted, the center must make a similar block to either side on outside zone runs, but he typically has the opportunity to get assistance from a guard, and the defensive tackles that a center must reach are rarely as athletic as the edge players a tackle must engage.

As right tackle gains importance as a position, it is also vital to note that the 49ers' elite left tackle, Joe Staley, is much older than Brown. Brown has filled in capably at left tackle when Staley was hurt, and his ability to stymie two of the best edge rushers in the game last year (he stonewalled Von Miller in joint practices during training camp, and he contained Vic Beasley so effectively in a match up against the Falcons that Beasley rushed the remainder of the game from the left side of the offense), speaks to his promise in defending the left edge each week. He certainly has the tools, with comically long arms, a stiff punch, and impossibly nimble feet for a man of his size. He has struggled to cut off the backside of zone runs to the left in the past, but I think that has been a function of his lagging energy and explosiveness as games wore on. He certainly has the feet to make that simple play, but he didn't always step out of his stance at the same pace. His improved fitness should erase that concern.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The question remains whether Brown can consistently perform his reach blocks, and that will be the single most important skill to look for when watching Brown this season. If Brown owns the edge in the run game and the 49ers find repeated success running outside zone to the right, Brown will have emphatically demonstrated that he can play tackle in this offense. As a result, the 49ers will be set at the edges in the near future, and the heir to Staley at left tackle will already be on the roster (allowing the 49ers to shop for a dominant wide receiver, edge rusher, and possibly quarterback in the early rounds of future drafts). To wit, if Brown is missing the reach block or consistently receiving help from a tight end or wing on outside zone runs, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch could look to replace him. If he is successful as a run blocker, he is the future at left tackle.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



49ers keeping quarterback options beyond 2020 open, says La Canfora

By David Bonilla
Oct 25, 2020

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the future of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Will he be part of head coach Kyle Shanahan's plans moving forward? Some would say the quarterback has a lot to prove this season, and it's been an up and down start with an injury thrown in the mix. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that San Francisco will exit this season with a flexible mindset regarding the quarterback position (h/t to Marcus White of NBC Sports). "While the 49ers invested heavily in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo just a few years ago,"

Read the Full Article


PFF grades 49ers' Kerry Hyder among most productive edge rushers

By David Bonilla
Oct 15, 2020

Kerry Hyder has been a pleasant surprise on a San Francisco 49ers defensive line that has been decimated by injuries this season. In the absence of edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, Hyder has racked up 20 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 10 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Reference. Hyder's overall Pro Football Focus grade of 70.8 is a career-high, and the analytics site credits the defender with 21 total pressures in 134 pass-rush attempts. He owns a pass-rushing-productivity grade of 9.9, which ranks as the fourth-best among NFL edge rushers. The only edge defenders who have made more of an impact rushing quarterbacks are Aldon Smith of the Dallas Cowboys (10.7 grade), T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers (10.4), and Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns (10.1),

Read the Full Article


49ers at Patriots, Week 7 predictions: Most believe Niners will remain undefeated on the road

By Site Staff
Oct 24, 2020

The New England Patriots are set to host the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Sunday, October 25 at 1:25 p.m. PT. Each week, the 49ers Webzone staff predicts the winner within its annual NFL Pick 'em contest. That includes writers and forum moderators. Seven of eight participating staff members this week selected the 49ers to beat the Patriots. San Francisco is currently a 2.5-point underdog. As for all the fans who are taking part in our NFL Pick 'em contest, 71 percent have the 49ers winning the game, as of this

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Aaron Erickson

All Articles by Aaron Erickson

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone