49ers: Is It Time for Trent Brown to Take Over for Joe Staley?

Niners Live asked in January if new San Francisco 49ers’ Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan would maximize Trent Brown’s immense talent and size. After seeing him excel in this scheme through the pre-season and first quarter of the season, we now double down and ask, ‘Is now the time for Brown to take over the left tackle spot for the long-time anchor of the line, but now aging, Joe Staley?’  


Brown is a mammoth of a man standing 6-8, 355 pounds. For a seventh-round draft pick, Brown has definitely exceeded expectations. Denver Broncos All-Pro Edge Rusher, Von Miller, who knows a thing or two about the tackles in the league, called Brown the best tackle in the NFL before the week two pre-season matchup between the two teams.

It’s not just Miller making this assessment, as Pro Football Focus (PFF) has gushed over the play of Brown this season and named him to their All – First Quarter Team one of only three players from the NFC to make the team. According to PFF, Brown has only given up five total quarterback pressures and has earned an overall grade of 85.7 (out of 100). He entered Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins as the eighth best tackle in the game by PFF and last season he finished with a pass blocking grade of 78.7.

Brown has the type of dedication to improvement you need to become, as Miller put it, “the best tackle in the league.” The type of improvement need to be awarded Niners Live’s Most Improved offensive Player Award for the first quarter.

Through the first five out of six games, Staley was ranked as the 17th tackle in the NFL by PFF.  While not horrible when you have a nice sidekick in Laken Tomlinson, the road-grader who opened the hole for the Carlos Hyde, 61-yard bust against Seattle, which was this season’s longest run from scrimmage.

Looking at the Niners Live Weekly Sacks and Penalties Report we see that Staley has given up plays in the passing game. And we know the sacks are drive killers. That continued in the Washington game where pressure on a few plays caused the quarterbacks to force passes early and incomplete on multiple third down plays.

Leading up to the draft, it was noted by Niners Live in April that the team would be wise to look at an upgrade on the offensive line, specifically with Staley in mind. The issue is aside from undrafted free agents. General Manager John Lynch did not bring in much competition at tackle, outside of Gary Gilliam formerly of the Seattle Seahawks. Gilliam has not played well enough to put either tackle in danger of losing their jobs.

Is It Time for Trent Brown to Take Over for Joe Staley?

Moving Brown over to left tackle may be a move that would seem to continue the rebuilding moves the team has been taking since the new regime of Lynch and Shanahan arrived in Santa Clara. Without a replacement for Brown at right tackle, there wouldn’t seem to be a way to make the move without losing the protection and running lanes the line, as currently constructed, has provided.

This is going to be the challenge of the scouting department, front office, and the coaching staff. This coming off-season, and more to date during this college football season, a concerted effort needs to be spent to uncover prospects along the offensive line, specifically, tackle, guard, and center.

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. AuthorEdward Erving Staff Writer @NinersLive.net and Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims