SANTA CLARA —Without viable options on the open market to take the place of left tackle Joe Staley, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said that rookie Justin Skule will get the nod for now.
The 49ers picked up two impressive wins on the East Coast but came home with a big loss. Staley will miss approximately six to eight weeks with a fractured left fibula. Unfortunately for the 49ers, they already lost swing tackle Shon Coleman for the season with an ankle injury.
Washington Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams is holding out for a new contract and does have experience with Shanahan’s system but there’s very little chance he ends up in Santa Clara. The price for a trade would be too high and Williams likely does not want to be a one-year rental.
While Shanahan said that there’s a possibility the 49ers work out a few tackles this week, the team is not set on anything yet. Shanahan thought that Skule did a nice job going in after Staley left Sunday's game.
"We were mainly running the ball at that time," Shanahan said. "But it was good to get him in a real NFL game especially since he’s going to be playing a lot next week.”
Skule was a four-year starter at Vanderbilt and Shanahan believes that experience in the SEC will be valuable. Shanahan and the front office will still keep their noses to the ground looking for options, which he said is standard procedure.
“Always,” Shanahan said. “We would love to if there were options. You look at anything that’s possible. I don’t think that there are a ton of options out there that are possible.”
Shahanan explained that Skule is on the roster for a reason, which is why they have confidence that he can hold down the left side until Staley returns.
“We kept Skule because we thought he was the best available,” Shanahan said. “So that doesn’t change now. I think that Skule is going to get a lot better throughout his career but we kept him on this team because he can help us win now.”
One option the team will not explore is Mike McGlinchey switching to the left side. Shanahan doesn’t believe that one side is more important as defensive ends often rush from both sides, with the exception of Von Miller.
Second-year lineman Daniel Brunskill is another option, who Shanahan said will work out this week at tackle as well. Most likely, the coaching staff will adjust to the personnel they have and provide help on the left side by using tight ends and/or a fullback for support.
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Shanahan said adding help isn’t only for rookies. The coach has always game-planned help as needed and sometimes elite players need it too.
“I’ve been with a lot of good tackles,” Shanahan said. “Had Trent Williams in Washington and Joe Thomas in Cleveland and Joe Staley here. There’s still times when you’ve got to help those guys also.”