San Francisco beefed up their offensive line this offseason after owning one of the worst run-blocking units in the NFL last season.
The 49ers sought out former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Brandon Fusco who signed with San Francisco late in free agency.
Over the last two seasons, Fusco started 30 games at both right and left guard with the Vikings. He also played an integral role on the offensive line that assisted Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in nearly breaking the NFL all-time rushing record in 2012. Fusco earned a contract extension at the end of the 2013 before a season ending shoulder injury limited him to just three games in 2014. Coming off of two less productive seasons in Minnesota, Fusco is ready for a new beginning in San Francisco.
"It's a fresh start for everybody - front office, coaching staff, players. A bunch of new faces," Fusco said. "I think this place is trying to build a new culture - a new attitude here. And I think that's what attracted me to this place. The zone scheme, run the ball. It's my thing, and I was all for it."
View the top images from the 11th practice of 2017 training camp presented by SAP.
In addition to Fusco, the 49ers invested in veteran free agents Garry Gilliam and Tim Barnes this offseason. Following the draft, San Francisco also brought in undrafted free agents John Flynn and Darrell Williams Jr.
In the first weeks of training camp, Fusco has competed with veteran Zane Beadles and 2016 first-round pick Joshua Garnett a left guard. Following a knee injury to Garnett that will keep him out of rotation for atleast a month, Fusco finds himself starting at right guard in the preseason opener.
"I think we've got a bunch of guys on this team who are willing to work," Fusco said. "I think we're on the right track and doing what Kyle (Shanahan) is asking us to do."
Last season, Shanahan's offense ranked top five in every notable stat category with the Atlanta Falcons. Much of that credit is due to his offensive line that ranked sixth in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Shanahan, who refers to Fusco as "reliable", seems comfortable with the veteran at right guard. A fresh start in San Francisco may be what it takes Fusco to return to his 2012 form.
"Kyle pushes us and expects excellence," Fusco added. "I think as a player, it makes me want to play hard for him. He's a guy that I respect a lot already. I want to give him my best effort.
"Coming from Minnesota and coming here, I want to reestablish my career and get back on the right track. There's a reason why I was a free agent and got picked up."