During these uncertain times just a month before the scheduled beginning of an NFL uncertain season, versatility is more important than ever.
Moments before 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey followed teammate Arik Armstead to the podium for the start of his briefing with Bay Area reporters, McGlinchey took ahold of a spray bottle and rag.
Typically, a staff member disinfects the area in the auditorium at Levi's Stadium between interviews. On Monday, McGlinchey insisted on doing the chore himself.
It’s going to be important this season for players -- especially backup players -- to fill a variety of roles. McGlinchey’s status as a starter is not in question, but he is getting into the act, too.
“Versatility is going to be absolutely huge,” McGlinchey said. “It’s going to make or break guys having jobs and make or break situations to fill our roster because we can get in any situation at any point this year that we’re not just looking out for injury, we’re looking out for something we can’t really defend ourselves from at times.
“To be able to plug and play guys in different positions at different times is really going to allow us to keep moving as smoothly as operationally possible.”
Through Sunday, 105 players throughout the NFL have spent time on the reserve/COVID-19 list in the opening weeks of training camp. Seventy-five of those players have been activated, leaving 30 players who are unable to return to their team’s practice facilities until cleared.
Teams must prepare for the possibility that they will have to come up with solutions for such problems as several players at one position going on reserve/COVID-19 at the same time. Each team is allowed to carry 16 players on their practice squads this season to help alleviate any concerns.
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It is reasonable to expect teams will have players on the practice squad getting familiar playing both ways. Teams will certainly have reserve defensive backs cross train at cornerback and safety. Some defensive linemen and linebackers will have to know all the spots within their position groups. And backup offensive linemen must be functional at multiple positions as insurance, too.
Two of the 49ers' newcomers fit that description, McGlinchey said.
Daniel Brunskill and Tom Compton are rotating during walk-throughs as they compete for the starting job at right guard. Brunskill started at three different positions for the 49ers last season, so he is a fit at nearly every position on the offensive line.
Compton is a veteran who has played right tackle and both guard positions in the course of his eight-year career.
Rookie Colton McKivitz, a fifth-round draft pick, started at left tackle and right tackle at West Virginia. He also is likely to be available to play guard for the 49ers.
“It’s two guys come in and compete really hard for us and give us added depth not just at the one position, but a bunch of them,” McGlinchey said of Compton and McKivitz. “It’s going to allow us to do certain things with those guys and push other guys forward.”