49ers camp battles: Center, right guard boils down to Daniel Brunskill

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49ers camp battles at center, right guard boils down to Brunskill originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Three-fifths of the 49ers’ starting offensive line appears set with the club scheduled to report for training camp Tuesday in Santa Clara.

Daniel Brunskill, who has started every game the past two seasons, is the pivotal player. He has starting experience at right guard and center.

Those are the two positions that are unsettled along the 49ers’ offensive line, and that’s why those spots are so tightly coupled.

Once the 49ers decide where Brunskill should concentrate his efforts, the competition along the offensive line becomes a lot more straight forward.

Until then, we only know Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey will start at the tackle spots with Aaron Banks slated to replace Laken Tomlinson at left guard.

Here is a look at the two open positions:

Center

Veteran Alex Mack started every game last season with Jake Brendel as the backup. Mack, an NFL All-Decade selection for the 2010s, announced his retirement last month.

Brendel has been in the NFL since 2016. He turns 30 in September.

Yet, he has started just three games in his career. He took the 49ers’ first-team reps at center during the offseason program.

The 49ers could turn to Brunskill, who started the second half of the 2020 season at center before shifting back to right guard last season.

The other most logical option for the 49ers is to pursue a veteran center once camp opens. If the club ultimately comes to the conclusion they can improve upon the players already on the roster, they have some options.

There are plenty of veteran centers available with experience, including JC Tretter, Matt Paradis, Billy Price and Trey Hopkins.

Right guard

If Brunskill shifts to center, there will be an interesting competition involving some promising young players at right guard.

Even if Brunskill remains at right guard, he might be pushed to hold onto his starting job.

The 49ers selected Jaylon Moore of Western Michigan in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft at No. 155 overall. He served primarily as a swing tackle as a rookie and made three starts last season.

But when the 49ers faced a must-win game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18 and Williams was not available, they turned to Colton McKivitz to start at left tackle. And even before that, the club went with Tom Compton over Moore at right tackle when McGlinchey underwent season-ending surgery.

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But Moore was shifted to guard this offseason, which gives him a better chance to get on the field. He should have an opportunity to compete for a starting job.

The door is also open for Spencer Burford to enter the mix for a starting job.

The 49ers selected Burford in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft with the No. 134 overall pick. Burford primarily played left tackle at Texas-San Antonio, where he started 43 games in his career.

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