The unbeaten 49ers were hit with another major injury to a key offensive player as they prepare for their first division game of the year.
Second-year right tackle Mike McGlinchey, a first-round draft pick in 2018, will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, coach Kyle Shanahan announced Wednesday. He’s expected to miss four to six weeks.
The news means San Francisco (4-0) will be without both starting tackles for the foreseeable future as veteran left tackle Joe Staley continues to work back from a fractured fibula sustained Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The team also lost fullback Kyle Juszczyk to an MCL sprain in Monday night’s victory over the Cleveland Browns and he’s expected to miss at least month.
Daniel Brunskill, who spent the offseason playing for the Alliance of American Football, will be the 49ers’ starting right tackle in McGlinchey’s absence. Brunksill originally joined the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and spent time the last two seasons on the practice squad. He signed with San Francisco in April.
Shanahan was asked if the team might be more willing to make a trade now that the team is undefeated through the first quarter of the season while down both starting tackles.
“You always feel the same. Things got to be available,” Shanahan said. “We have to make smart decisions. If there was a smart decision, we would definitely look into it, look into it all. But it doesn’t seem like any are available at all right now.”
Many have wondered if the 49ers would trade for Washington’s disgruntled tackle Trent Williams, who has remained away from the team over a contract dispute, though San Francisco has indicated Williams has not been made available. Williams was a first-round draft pick in 2010 when Shanahan was Washington’s offensive coordinator under his father, Mike.
Brunkskill, who would be making his first career start, made the team after playing well throughout training camp and the preseason after the 49ers lost Shon Coleman, who was initial planned to be their backup “swing” tackle, to a season-ending ankle injury in the first exhibition game.
Essentially, Skule and Brunksill entered the year as San Francisco’s fourth and fifth options at tackle. Now they’re both starting.
“I didn’t know much about (Brunskill) until he got here in OTAs and training camp,” Shanahan said. “But got to see him then and I became a believer in him. He was number 61 for a while for me, but he became Brunskill because he was low on the radar as it started out, but he earned his sport on this team. He did a real good job. That’s why he’s on the team. That’s why he wasn’t on the practice squad.”
The dropoff from Staley to Skule over the past two weeks hasn’t been noticeable as the 49ers have run the ball well (they average a league-leading 200 yards per game) and called mostly quick passes to avoid putting Skule on an island against pass rushers. That task becomes even more difficult without the McGlinchey, the No. 9 overall draft pick two years ago, on the opposite side.
Shanahan indicated McGlinchey’s injury stemmed from two plays in the 31-3 victory over the Browns. One in which he collided with receiver Deebo Samuel and another where he was rolled up on by another player.