Are you ready for another NFL season?
Daniel Brunskill is.
“It’s good to get the fans back,” Brunskill said Wednesday from Santa Clara. “I’m pretty excited to get going and have that atmosphere.”
When the NFL opens it season Thursday night in Tampa, Fla., where the Bucs will begin their Super Bowl defense against the Dallas Cowboys, fans will fill the same 67,000-seat stadium that seven months ago was limited to 22,000 spectators in Super Bowl 55 .
Everyone who works for the Bucs has been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the team, and to the 75 doctors in South Florida who recently staged an event urging fellow Floridians to get vaccinated, that’s better than Tom Brady throwing for a touchdown every series . “We are exhausted. Our patience and resources are running low and we need your help,” Dr. Rupesh Dharia, from Palm Beach Internal Medicine, told WFLA News while exhorting Floridians to get the jab.
Brunskill is one of several San Diegans affiliated with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Valley Center High graduate went through practice Wednesday as the first-team right guard, to sign he will start the opener Sunday in Detroit.
It is another case of Brunskill, 27, overcoming football odds taller than Palomar Mountain, which he has hiked.
In April the Niners invested a second-round draft pick and $3.5 million of guaranteed money in a player at Brunskill’s position — Notre Dame All-American Aaron Banks — but the undrafted San Diego State graduate held him off.
“You can’t worry about the things around you,” said Brunskill. whose four linemates were drafted in the first round. “You’ve got to do what you can do best to help the team win. That’s all I’m trying to do. It’s not about who’s drafted or how high they were drafted. If they decide that you’re the guy to help them win, then they’ll have you out there.”
So it goes for a player who walked onto San Diego State’s program and appeared in 54 consecutive games, setting a school record. Who was undrafted by the NFL, apprenticed two years with the Atlanta Falcons and caught the eye of a 49ers scout while playing right tackle for the San Diego Fleet — a reminder that developmental leagues can push a prospect over the top.
Brunskill adapted fast to coach Kyle Shanahan’s zone-heavy blocking schemes, earning a 53-man roster spot in 2019. He has started 23 games and played in 33 of 35 games including Super Bowl 53, in which he blocked on special teams.
Holding on to his starting job this summer came with a bonus: Brunskill said it’s “nice” that he goes into an NFL season having focused on only one position for the first time in his five NFL preseasons.
But he quickly noted that things can change. After all, he has started at both tackle spots, right guard and center, and has played left guard.
He said he is in the midst of sharpening his mindset for a slam-bam game Sunday, between two teams “that want to run the football.” He said he is “locking” his mind into the season ahead, but he is mindful of the targeted final destination: The Kroenke Dome in Inglewood.
“We’re out there to win a Super Bowl,” he said.