How Daniel Brunskill, Justin Skule have learned from 49ers' star linemen

How Daniel Brunskill, Justin Skule have learned from 49ers' star linemen

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ win streak has continued with virtual unknowns Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill playing offensive tackle.

Skule and Brunskill have done an admirable job filling in for injured starters Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey. Just like Staley and McGlinchey have similar personalities, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Skule and Brunskill remind him of each other.

The two young tackles are similar in their low-key personalities and their ability to focus without getting in their own heads. All it takes is a minute speaking with them to realize they could not be any more different than the pair of Staley and McGlinchey.

“They’re very loud and rambunctious people, and they like to give me a hard time about being monotone and not so loud,” Skule said. “But they’re fun guys to be around.”

“They’re like the same guy just different years," Brunskill said. "It’s really cool how tight they are and when you come into that room. It’s really awesome come into that room.”

Brunskill and Skule talked about the influences of Staley and McGlinchey on this week’s episode of The 49ers Insider Podcast. Both players said they have benefitted from a great culture in the offensive line meeting room that begins with those two players.

“To have those guys be as loud and funny as they are, it just lightens up the room,” Brunskill said. “Some of the days can get long with all of the meetings, and they love to bring the energy and make everything really fun. It’s easy to come in to work for that.”

Skule took over as the starter for the 49ers’ Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when Staley fractured his leg in the 49ers’ Sept. 15 win at Cincinnati. Staley invited Skule to his house to watch film of the Steelers in preparation for his first NFL start.

“This is his third year with coach Shanahan and we’re installing something in camp and Joe is taking as many notes as anyone in the room,” said Skule, a sixth-round draft pick from Vanderbilt.

“He doesn’t sit back in his chair, like, ‘Oh, I know this.’ He’s taking the most detailed notes out of anyone. When I saw that, it really resonated with me. This is why he’s been able to be so successful in this league for so long. He treats every day like a new day.”

Brunskill spent the previous two seasons on the practice squad of the Atlanta Falcons. His first start came in the 49ers’ 20-7 over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6. Brunskill said Staley sets a good example in the meeting room but because of their similarities in experience, he and Skule can often relate better with McGlinchey, a second-year player whom the 49ers chose in the first round of last year'draft.

[RELATED: 49ers' Sherman feeding off slights, doubts of opponents]

“It’s the perfect mix,” said Brunskill, who entered the NFL in 2017 with the Falcons as an undrafted rookie from San Diego State.

Staley could be back in the 49ers’ lineup as early as Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals. McGlinchey could return any time from Week 10’s game, Monday, Nov. 11, against Seattle, to Week 12 against Green Bay on Sunday, Nov. 24.

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

Throughout NFL history, of quarterbacks to start at least 100 career games, only Tom Brady (.773) and Roger Staubach (.746) have posted better regular-season winning percentages than 49ers legend Joe Montana (.713). So, when it comes to knowing the secrets to victory, he's a pretty good source of advice.

Montana won 117 of his 164 career regular-season starts, precisely 100 victories of which came with San Francisco. On Wednesday, he posted a photo on Instagram from the final one of those wins with the 49ers, in which he offered up a secret to his success.

"Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first," Montana wrote. "They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live."
As of the time of this writing, that post had received 15,685 likes, one of which came from another 49ers quarterback who happens to have a knack for winning as well -- Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: Where Jimmy G, Carr rank among NFL starting quarterbacks]

Jimmy G, of course, displayed his penchant for winning immediately upon joining the 49ers, winning his first five starts after San Francisco acquired him midway through the 2017 season. Across 24 regular-season starts with the 49ers, he has posted a 19-5 record (.792). Not to mention, he was arguably one missed completion away from winning Super Bowl LIV.

Garoppolo might have his own secrets to his success, but it certainly can't hurt if he picks up a thing or two from Joe Cool.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers 'not close at all' on new contract

NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers 'not close at all' on new contract

George Kittle is the best tight end in the NFL. He just doesn't want to be paid like it.

Kittle arguably is the 49ers' best overall player, and an indispensable part of their operation. He is a leader in the locker room, their top receiving threat and his blocking ability is closer to that of an above-average offensive lineman. Perhaps that's why his agent is looking to get him paid -- not as a tight end, receiver or linemen -- but rather, some combination of those positions.

"I've been talking a lot to [Kittle's] agent, Jack Bechta, over the last couple of months and he has consistently said, 'I don't care about the tight end market; I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal,'" NFL Network's Michael Silver said Friday on "NFL Total Access." "And I tend to agree with him here. He is their No. 1 target, so important in that locker room, and clearly, he is doing something that transcends what a typical tight end does."

Last season, Kittle led San Francisco with 85 receptions (on 107 targets) for 1,053 yards despite missing two games due to injury. His 3,106 receiving yards (including the playoffs) are the most ever in NFL history by a tight end in his first three seasons. And, as Silver noted, with Kittle in the lineup last season, the 49ers -- heading into Super Bowl LIV -- averaged 5.6 yards on rushes outside of the tackles; when he was out of the lineup, that number dropped to 3.3 yards.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

He is a dynamic offensive weapon, which adds to the complexity of his contract negotiations. Back in 2014, Bears tight end Jimmy Graham signed a four-year, $40 million contract that reset the market at that position, and in the time since, there has been minimal growth. According to Over the Cap, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry currently averages the highest annual salary at the position at $10.607 million.

It isn't expected to be a quick or simple negotiation, and it's easy to see why. San Francisco, of course, would love to secure Kittle on as low of an agreeable salary as possible, but it's assumed both sides have differing opinions -- at least initially -- on exactly what that would be.

And, as Silver reported, it doesn't sound like Kittle and the 49ers are closing in on a deal anytime soon.

"They're not close at all," Silver said. "There were some preliminary talks back in February; nothing for the last couple months. ... This is a difficult situation because during a pandemic, owners are not super eager to shell out massive deals. There's a lot of uncertainty. And so I'm not sure how much of this situation can be attributed to the unique COVID-19 situation, and how much of it is just a gap in how each side views this. I know there's a lot of good intention. You talk to the 49ers, they say, 'We want him. We will get this done.' I know George Kittle wants to be there, but they have a ways to go in terms of figuring out his value."

[RELATED: Pay the man: Why Kittle deserves to be paid like top WR]

Ultimately, if San Francisco and Kittle can't come to an agreement, the 49ers always have the option of applying the franchise tag on him next offseason when he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. That would pay him the average of the top-five players at his position in 2021.

Of course, first, they must come to an agreement on what his position is.