How Trent Williams injury will impact 49ers' O-line in Joe Staley's opinion

Staley explains how Williams injury will impact 49ers' O-line originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The early returns of the 49ers’ uncertain offensive line have been promising to NFL All-Decade left tackle Joe Staley.

“I’ve been really encouraged, honestly, by the play of the young guys,” Staley said on the latest episode of "49ers Talk."

“It’s not going to be all perfect. My first couple of years in the NFL, it was some really good days and some really bad days. So they’re going through their learning curves. And for the team, it’s an interesting situation where you have three guys who are doing it at once, all in the middle.”

The task, however, gets more difficult for the 49ers over the next four to six weeks with All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams sidelined with a high right ankle sprain.

The 49ers are likely to turn to Colton McKivitz to take over for Williams, beginning Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium.

The impact of Williams’ injury was felt on Sunday night in the 49ers’ 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was pressured on 12.2 percent of his drop backs with Williams on the field. After Williams’ injury, the pressure rate on Garoppolo rose to 21.4 percent, according to Zebra Technologies.

“They’re going to miss Trent, for sure,” Staley said. “He’s such a catalyst. He allows them to do so many different things just by putting him on an island.

“You’re able to slide and keep your help in the middle, where those guys are really trying to figure it out.”

One of the 49ers’ biggest bright spots through three games has been the play of left guard Aaron Banks. After minimal playing time as a rookie, Banks is showing the reasons why the 49ers selected him in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

“Aaron Banks is playing really well,” Staley said. “Watching him, I think he’s doing a lot of really good things out there.”

Staley said he is excited about the potential of rookie right guard Spencer Burford, who has held up well in pass protection. Staley said Burford must continue to develop with all the nuances of getting off the ball and blocking angles on run plays.

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Center Jake Brendel is the 49ers’ lowest-rated offensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus. The 49ers hope Daniel Brunskill will be available to practice this week, as the club prepares for its Week 4 game. Brunskill has not played since the first preseason game due to a hamstring injury.

“This is a team that’s going to figure it out as the season goes and they’ll continue to improve,” Staley said.

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