Short-handed 49ers offensive line holds its own in big win over Rams

Short-handed 49ers offensive line holds its own in big win over Rams

LOS ANGELES — The biggest question before the 49ers' 20-7 victory over the Rams on Sunday was how San Francisco would compensate for the loss of offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, plus fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

It turns out that wasn’t a determining factor in Los Angeles. 

The 49ers' run game was held to 99 yards, but the offense didn’t get shut down by the Rams' defense. Backup offensive tackles Daniel Brunskill and Justin Skule held their own on the offensive line without much previous experience on the field. 

After the game, center Weston Richburg beamed like a proud older brother when he spoke to NBC Sports Bay area about his young counterparts on the offensive line. To Richburg, inserting Brunskill and Skill has been seamless. 

“They’ve stepped in and done a great job,” Richburg said. “We’ve had a really had a great transition going from having both our starters to these guys. We really don’t know the difference.” 

Stepping in for Staley, a 13-year veteran, and first-round draft pick McGlinchey, is no small task. Richburg was empathetic for the two inexperienced players, especially with so much on the line in a divisional game. 

“Yeah, I’m nervous too,” Richburg said. “It’s a natural thing, but they did a great job settling in and taking care of business.” 

The offensive line did get an assist from the tight ends who stepped into Juszczyk’s role and added support along the line. George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo all took turns at fullback, blocking and trying to create space for the running backs. 

“All of them,” Richburg said. “Levine was in a lot. He made some big contributions and a really big third down conversion. That’s our team. We have guys who can step in and do a good job,”  

Helping the players adjust and compensate for the new pieces on the offense also fell on the shoulders of coach Kyle Shanahan and his ofensive scheme. Even though the run game was slowed down a bit, the offense still racked up 22 first downs and 331 total yards on 76 offensive plays. 

“I’m very proud of those guys,” Shanahan said. “It’s tough. There is a lot of different factors that go in. You always kind of change things up when you’re missing tackles, when you’re missing two, changes with the fullback. Dwelley did an awesome job with playing fullback most of the day.

"We gave Kittle a couple. Also, the receivers going in and out.”

Richburg isn’t surprised that the offensive line performed well even with the pressure of it being such a big game. The support from the coaches and the veterans has been invaluable. 

“I think it’s the room,” Richburg said. “It starts from John Benton, to our assistant and then from the older guys. It’s the culture. It starts with Joe [Staley] really. We’ve set a culture in the room and it’s not like we have to follow a set of rules, it’s just understood how we are expected to play and contribute.

"The guys understand it and they’ve done a good job.” 

Brunskill himself described his 49ers debut as surreal. Facing the likes of Rams All-Pro pass rusher Aaron Donald is a big challenge, and the support Brunskill got from his teammates was key to his ability to acclimate. 

[RELATED: Why Shanahan doesn't blame Jimmy G for INT in 49ers' win]

“I got chills going out, so that was awesome,” Brunskill said. “Definitely nerve racking going out right off the bat. Luckily, we have a great defense and a great group of guys which kind of helped calm that. 

“I give it to the scout team. They gave us great looks in practice this week. They were balling. I don’t think I would have been able to get ready like this if it wasn’t for Kevin Givens, who did his best to impersonate Aaron Donald.”  

The 49ers will continue to adjust and compensate for several weeks hoping to at least get Staley back before their Monday night matchup facing Seattle in early November. 

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

BRADENTON, Fla. — For the second time in as many months, a member of the 49ers has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.

Linebacker Fred Warner took home the title for November after Nick Bosa had the honor for October. During the month, Warner tallied 44 total tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. 

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes altering the linebacker’s responsibilities has given Warner an opportunity to play with more speed. 

“We’ve taken a lot off his plate so he can just go line up and play,” Saleh said Thursday. “Putting more of the onus on making sure that guys lineup and go play. We were playing some of those read-option teams, the Arizona teams, we’re asking him to make a lot of checks and see if he can get us in the perfect defense. 

“While he’s busy trying to do that, he’s not able to focus on his job. Even though he was getting everyone lined up and everything was perfect, it’s just not fair for him. So, to take a little bit off his plate so he can go ahead and go play, I think that’s really been the difference.”

Saleh is not alone in praising Warner. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman also has been impressed with the young linebacker's work ethic and growth in his second season. The fact that Warner didn’t play inside until he was with the 49ers makes his accomplishments even more significant. 

“The inside linebacker already has so much on his plate,” Sherman said. “Being able to take some of that off—there was one game I think he had six calls in one play. Where if this guy moves here, he has to readjust the line. He has to tell the DBs this, he has to tell this guy this and sometimes that just doesn’t allow him to play fast.

“He’s getting everybody else lined up to play fast but he can’t play fast. He has to think about all these calls, all these adjustments. Maybe you put a little more strain on the rest of the guys. You spread out the strain and it allows him to play fast and for us to be a better defense.”

[RELATED: 49ers now have logjam at running back with Breida's return]

Now in his second year, Warner sees things developing on the field more quickly. No matter the workload given to him by Saleh, the BYU product has been able to adjust.  

“I think as the year has gone on, he has kind of started to realize what’s too much, what’s too little,” Warner said. “I agree completely. Ever since kind of the midway point of the season, I think he has lined it up for me to just go out and play fast.”  

49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments


49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments

BRADENTON , Fla. -- Following radio broadcaster Tim Ryan's one-game suspension for his comments regarding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, several 49ers players spoke out, believing there was no malicious intent behind what the analyst said. 

Known as being outspoken on most topics, Richard Sherman did not mince words about what Ryan said. He even mentioned that the commentator had personally apologized to several players while at the team hotel after the announcement of his suspension. 

“I know Tim personally, and I listened to the dialogue and saw it, read it,” Sherman said. “Honestly, I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else. I understand how it can be taken in a certain context and be offensive to some. 

“But if you’re saying, ‘Hey, this is a brown ball, they are wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm,’ honestly sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm really fast and you’re like, does he have the ball? And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it.

“So it was technically a valid point but the way he said it, you can always phrase things better. I’ve had a relationship with him since I’ve gotten here and he’s never been anything other than a great guy and a professional and a guy who takes his job seriously.” 

Edge rusher Dee Ford expressed similar sentiments about Ryan’s comments, and confirmed that the two had spoken since the incident. 

“He walked up to me earlier and before he even said anything I told him. ‘I got your back.’” Ford said. “I already knew the story. The words kind of got taken out of context, and of course, now he knows he could have used better judgment with his words. But we got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. 

“This era we live in, it is just what it is, but I know him personally. I speak to him a lot. He loves to watch the D-line and there’s not one -- type of bone -- you know what bone I’m talking about, in his body. So I got his back, so put that to bed really fast.”  

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also spoke about Ryan’s nature, not believing that there was negative intent behind his comments. 

[RELATED: How Payton, Saints are preparing for imposing 49ers defense]

“I’ve always, as a human being, tried to judge people on how I interact with them,” Saleh said. “And I love the man. He’s a very genuine human being and he knows he made a mistake and he’s just trying to move this on as quickly as possible.” 

Dennis Brown will be on the call with Greg Papa during Ryan’s absence for Sunday’s matchup against the Saints in the Superdome.