Justin Skule performed admirably at left tackle for the 49ers in relief of Joe Staley, and the sixth-round rookie is set to be called upon again.
Sixth-round rookie Justin Skule was thrown in at the deep end in his first NFL season for the San Francisco 49ers, as a broken fibula sustained by Joe Staley in Week 2 forced him into action for six games, and he is set to be called upon again after another injury setback for the veteran left tackle.
Justin Skule, along with Daniel Brunskill — who filled in for Mike McGlinchey on the right-hand side after he was injured in Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns — ensured there was no significant drop-off after Staley went out. The Niners stayed undefeated for their opening eight games despite the absence of both starting tackles.
Now Staley is set for another spell on the sidelines. He will miss another couple of weeks after undergoing surgery on a fractured and dislocated finger suffered in the Niners’ first defeat of the season, a thrilling overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
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After being reduced to the role of spectator for one game, Skule will be back at left tackle, and the 49ers will need him to remain dependable as they face a Week 11 game with a dangerous Arizona Cardinals team before a daunting stretch run.
Following the Cardinals game, the Niners will take on the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and the Los Angeles Rams before a trip to Seattle to finish the regular season.
In his six starts, Skule received widespread praise and was praised particularly for his intelligent hand usage and athleticism.
He held his own against Chandler Jones in the 49ers’ Week 9 win over the Cardinals and will need to do so again in a game they can ill-afford to lose.
Defeat would mean the 49ers ceding the lead of the NFC West to the Seattle Seahawks. Skule’s ability to come in and again provide a solid presence at left tackle will be critical to them avoiding a damaging loss.
The Niners don’t need to decide on a long-term replacement for Staley just yet. However, if Skule can come in and ensure they head into the stretch run 9-1, his case to be the successor at left tackle will be considerably stronger.