49ers’ biggest concern is the offensive line

This is my Tuesday column.

Forget Colin Kaepernick and his development. Forget Frank Gore and his old legs. Forget NaVorro Bowman and his busted knee. Forget all of those concerns. The biggest concern facing the 49ers is the offensive line, from center to right guard to right tackle.

Through the first three preseason games the 49ers have gained just 38 yards on 15 direct handoffs, running plays designed to go behind the right side of the starting O-line – 2.5 yards per carry. The Niners have gained 67 yards on 12 direct handoffs designed to go behind the left side of the starting O-line – 6.2 yards per carry.

The left side of the O-line is left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Mike Iupati, two of the best run blockers in football. The other three-fifths of the O-line are center Daniel Kilgore, right guard Joe Looney and right tackle Jonathan Martin, who generate no movement at the point of attack. They are three of the worst run blockers in football.

Kilgore, Looney and Martin are new to the starting lineup. Kilgore replaced Jonathan Goodwin who signed with the Saints this offseason. Looney replaced Alex Boone who is holding out for a new contract. Martin replaced Anthony Davis who had shoulder surgery in the offseason and has missed all three preseason games.

Before Kilgore, Looney and Martin became starters, the 49ers had one of the best run-blocking O-lines in football. Dominant run blocking is the foundation of the 49ers’ offense. Dominant run blocking makes the 49ers’ offense work – they run more than they pass and their passing game depends on play action. Last season Colin Kaepernick’s passer rating was 103 on play-action passes and 83 on non-play-action passes.

Forget Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson and all the other wide receivers the 49ers have this season. Those players are the rumpus rooms in the 49ers’ offensive mansion. The offensive line is the foundation. If three-fifths of the foundation disappears, the mansion will crumble.

Think like an opposing defensive coordinator. Size up the 49ers’ offense. How can it hurt you? The only way it can gain yardage on the ground is behind Staley and Iupati. Kilgore, Looney and Martin struggle moving defenders one-on-one in the run game – you don’t need additional defensive support to handle those three weak links.

So you’ll slant your defense to the left side of the 49ers’ offense and gang up on Staley and Iupati. One small adjustment takes away the entire 49ers’ running game.

The 49ers can’t let that happen. The 49ers need reinforcements.

Right tackle Anthony Davis might be healthy enough to start Week 1. It is unclear if he will play this Thursday in the final preseason game against the Texans – he started practicing just last week. He was a decent run blocker last season and a great run blocker two seasons ago. How good is he now after missing the offseason?

The 49ers lost their reinforcement at center on Sunday. They drafted center Marcus Martin in the third round this year. He was supposed to be a powerful run blocker. But he dislocated a knee cap on Sunday and will miss about two months according to the Sacramento Bee. So the 49ers have to live with Kilgore for now.

The Niners might have to live with Looney, too. Last week, the 49ers offered Boone a contract that would have made him one of the 12 highest-paid guards and, according to NFL.com, Boone turned down the offer. The 12th-highest paid guard will earn $6 million this season. Boone must realize how much leverage he has now that the whole world knows Looney can’t move anyone at the point of attack.

The 49ers’ running game can work around one weak run-blocker – Kilgore won’t kill the entire offense by himself. But the 49ers can’t work around two weak links side-by-side on the line. The Kilgore-Looney tandem won’t work. The 49ers absolutely need Boone back. They can’t afford not to pay him what he wants.

If the 49ers pay Boone and if Davis proves he’s healthy, the 49ers will have four-fifths of their foundation and the offense will be fine. Without those two, it could all come tumbling down.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

This article has 240 Comments

  1. Our old friend Chicken Little calls out, “The sky is falling!”

    There is no help insight if Boone doesn’t get what he wants, which according to Chicken Little is more that six big ones per year.

    In the distance one can almost hear the folks of River City chanting softly, “Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble.”

    1. Once we get A.davis back and
      Hopefully Boone comes back as well
      It will be a totally different line

  2. NO SENSE WHINING ABOUT THE 49er OL. The Seahawk’s Russell Wilson managed last season QBing behind a patch quilt of rookies on the O-Line, because of injuries.

    As your bloggers pointed out to me last year in a post, you can’t whine about the Seahawk O-Line starters out on IR. Thats why they have backups.

    Well… now the 49ers will get their real test wearing the same shoe under coach Harballer. You’ll find out how hungry the backups are??? Gonna find out if the 49ers really have any depth, are they talent enough to standup to the Seattle Seahawks pass rush come turkey day???

    RW is ready for the regular season to start, his pass completion is 77%. So what is Kaps % so far… Hmmmmm???

    1. It’s tards like you who immediately open your mouth about football you lose creditability! Pumping up pre season stats and running your mouth about pre season performance’s. You can keep hoping like the rest of the country outside the Bay Area that the niners have to step back because of two key players being out. We’ll you will be very disappointed when the real bullets start flying in September!

        1. I had issues with some of the things Joe Montana did. I also had issues with some of the things Steve Young did. I’ve seen elite QBs. I’ve also seen Jeff Garcia, Jim Drunkenmiller, Elvis Grbac, Shaun Hill (I liked). I watch Kaepernick and can see he has the talent to play QB. So, regardless of when and if he wins a super bowl, I think it is an exceptional QB who is fun to watch and continues to grow. Sometimes not as fast as I’d like, but as Oldcoach has pointed out, without the O-line performing at an elite level, everything else tends to fall off. Now come November, the team will have played 3 tough games. So, I think if you’re going to take a shot at a guy for his screen name, you should at least know the schedule you’re referencing.

    2. COACH HARBALLER BETTER START WORKIN HIS MAGIC… SCREAM LOUDER!! One pregame left before the real deal

      “The preseason stats say it all: Their eight points per game in the preseason ranks last in the NFL. Their 239.3 yards per game ranks last in the NFL; 149.7 passing yards per game … last in the NFL. The only offensive statistic that doesn’t rank 32nd in the preseason is their rushing attack, and even then, it’s ranked 24th at 89.7 yards per game. It’s already the third preseason game so San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh has no excuses; his blue-collar team should be ready to rock and roll by now.”

  3. Disagree Grant. From what I saw it is the left side that is in more dire straits. Iupati looked horrendous against the Chargers and didn’t really give Staley support whereas the right side held a little better. The three from Kilgore to Looney are new to the line, so it’s expected that they might struggle a bit. However, Iupati is supposed to be a beast at LG but has instead looked like a lost puppy thus far.

  4. You know better than this. You know Davis will be back, and you know the difference between Davis and Martin is about the same as that between Montana and Young.

            1. Druckenmiller wasn’t even close to mediocre. And Martin has played fairly well the past two games.

              1. Druckenmiller was a true disappointment. Million dollar body with a ten cent head.

            2. Really? I think Martin’s been improving and looks pretty decent. Certainly good enough to secure a roster spot. What makes you rate him below mediocre?

              1. With Davis returning how would J Martin do at Guard? I agree if we are to see any hope of improved passing game the left side needs to step up. Its an interesting quandary, the right side pass protects well and the left side runs well. Seems like you’d want it reversed.

              2. Because he was bullied in Miami, so obviously isn’t tough enough to play in the NFL…even though he actually is and has been solid throughout the preseason. Damn those facts.

  5. Offensive line issues….
    Okay, Colin, it looks as though you will be absorbing
    some NFL-caliber hits this season.

    So let’s see how your famous nonchalance
    (think headphones & sweatshirts & baseball caps)
    holds up through some bone-rattling tackles, huh?

    1. Looks like another post that has zero relevance to the discussion and full of complete of sheer ignorance ergo it will be deleted soon.

    2. Hello Mr. ‘I’m powerless in real life so I have to troll’ Did you enjoy the game against the Chargers? We all know that you live in SD. Was the game blacked out because of your crappy stadium?

    3. Alex Smith…yada, yada? Is that one “yada” for each INT thrown in the redzone this last week?

  6. Ok, I’ll just cut through the maze (all the issue Grant noted) and present my bottom line:
    49er have some early season issues but finish strong at 11-5 and overtake Seattle in the West.

    Hey, if Grant can see the glass half empty, what’s wrong with me seeing it half full :>)

    1. I agree and have thought most of our issues would be early, but the O-line and DL are a bit of a concern to me. I thought quality depth would be a HUGE advantage for us. Yet, the quality part is a question mark. On OL, Looney and Kilgore appear average. At DL, Dobbs and Eddie are nothing to write home about, Carradine and Dial are inexperienced, and our Right now, the only guy who really excites me, as a backup is Aaron Lynch who hasn’t a clue what he is doing yet. For a team in need of quality depth at almost every position, it’s a concern.

      One thing that is apparent to me, Pete Carroll is much better at developing young talent than Harbaugh. I don’t think that they have better talent necessarily, but they seem to play more aggressively and effectively within their system. They lose a couple linemen and plug someone in who plays at a high-level. It’s crazy.

    2. AES
      I’m pretty much in agreement with your take on this. Early sputters, with some losses, but a potential for finishing stronger. A team that may look marginal for the Playoffs in the first half of season could get better if they can avoid further injury depletions. At this point I’m not seeing Boone in the mix at all.
      The three guys in question haven’t gotten much push, but if one actually looks at them instead of only dredging up numbers, they have showed some improvement individually and better cohesion. The numbers reflect the slow start, but has anyone noticed how good the Ravens D has been this summer? That helped those dismal numbers be so low and that 1Q was the perfect example of Grant’s point. But they’ve gotten a little better in what I watched since then. Iupati thinks he can correct his issues; hope so.
      Grant isn’t wrong on many takes: They need more movement at the point of attack, or Ds will do what he said; wouldn’t you as a DC?
      But “They are three of the worst run blockers in football.” is archetypical of Grant’s hyperbolic style. He can’t just make a point, he has to make The Big Point (Look at me!) and neatly tie it in to his on-going defense of his Boone Has All The Leverage theme.

      1. Have you all looked at the schedule? It’s actually fairly easy. They will be tested week 4 philly, week 7 Denver, week 9 New Orleans, week 12 Seattle, week 14 Seattle. The rest of the schedule is against mediocre teams.
        To say they finish strong indicates that they beat Seattle twice. They are going to play Seattle on a short week playing an afternoon game. Seattle is going to be playing a morning game at the chiefs before that Thanksgiving game.
        St, Louis doesn’t have a QB. Oakland is Oakland. NY Giants, LOL. Redskins won’t be able to keep RG III healthy that long. Chiefs don’t have the cake walk they had last year. Aldon Smith should be back in time for the Broncos, Giants, Saints, and Seahawks. Can’t really ask for better help early from the schedule makers.

        1. Matt,
          I would add Dallas or Chicago as a potentially tough game, based on statistics. The odds are likely that either one of those teams is going to be better then we think. I would also say that AZ will be tougher than expected. The AZ game in AZ could be an L.
          Everything depends on health of team, and maturation of either Hyde or Colin. Gore is going to burn out fast this year and Colin has to get to the next level as a passer. If Hyde develops as a bell cow, around that crappy O-line, then we should be good. We won’t know what kind of team the Niners are going to be til that Philly game. Harbaugh dislikes Chip Kelly as much as he despises Pete Carroll!!!!

          1. Nope. The Gabbert-Bethea-Martin signings were dumb…

            But the reason we’ll finish 7-9 is that we’re in the toughest division in football, our defense without Bowman and soon to be Aldon for a while is taking a step back, Kilgore hasn’t stepped up, Iupati has been atrocious against quickness. But the single biggest reason…

            Kaep needs to be a top-level QB to overcome those issues. And he isn’t. That’s what’s killing us now, and what is going to kill us throughout the season.

            1. It seems to me that we might want to watch a few real games in the regular season (you know, where the coaches actually gameplan, the team uses its entire playbook, and starters play together for an entire game) before we start drawing so many firm conclusions about what the team and certain players can and can’t do.

              But that’s just me.

              1. What a dumb idea Balls. Get with the program and forecast doom. Waiting to see what happens is for losers.

              2. Claude, Rocket, my reply was to the person who predicted 11-5. I was just joining in the speculation.

              3. Sully:

                Fair enough.

                You have to admit, however, that you have been doomsaying pretty consistently for the past three months.

              4. Sully,

                Look at the schedule and tell me how this team loses 9 games if they are healthy. This is a team that has won 36 out of 48 regular season games under the current Coaching staff. They won 12 last year with one go to WR and a TE for 2 thirds of the season.

                I get the apprehension over losing Bowman and experience in the secondary but there is more talent on this team right now than at any point in the Harbaugh era. Add to that the fact this group is battle tested and hungry, and I see no way they lose more than 5-6 games depending on injuries and how long Smith is suspended for.

                They are too good to fall like you are predicting unless they lose Kap and even then, who knows with the running game and defense they can put out there?

        1. I think the Rams also finish around 7-9. However, I like Shaun Hill more than Bradford. Hill played well whenever he got a chance in Detroit. Not a big arm, but a great game manager who makes quick decisions.

  7. “He was a decent run blocker last season and a great run blocker two seasons ago”. “How good is he now after missing the offseason”? Why don’t you ask him? Ha!

  8. Bill Walsh had Dan Audick at right tackle in 1981. I think they won the Super Bowl that year. Some coaches take what they got and make it work. Bum Phillips said of Don Shula that he could take his players and beat yours and he could take your players and beat his. (He said it in Texan words that I can’t quite duplicate). Harbaugh has always been a player or two short of the goal. Had to replace his first quarterback because he only got them to the NFC championship. That was what was holding them back. Got to have Baalke stand above all others in replacing this player and that player. Time to play the hand your dealt in my book. When teams can’t run, they don’t spend their days crying about it. The winners play with what they got and make it work. Bill Walsh fixed the right tackle deficiency after they won the Super Bowl, not before.

    1. Oh, I almost forgot, Walsh had Lenvil Elliott as our bell cow for the playoffs in 1981 (he was injured for most of the year I think). How did Bill do it?

      1. Whine country he won with defense. The team did’nt really turn it around untill they traded for F. Dean around game 4.

      2. Actually the “bell cow ” was Ricky Patton. Not much of a difference, but if someone is going to quote from that era you’d think they’d at least know the team.

    2. Bill Walsh had the greatest offensive line coach in NFL history in Bobb McKittrick. And McKittrick was the only coach he didnt try to tinker with his schemes of coaching techniques.

      1. Solari studied under Mr. McKittrick, which is why I was elated at the prospect of him coaching the 49ers offensive line….

    3. Actually Dan Audick was at OLT, Keith Farmhorst was ORT, and pretty solid. Joe was always rolling right to get away from Audick’s guy. Fortunately Joe was faster than any DEs. But I’m quibbling, your basic points are correct. You play with who you have, and since Jim is a Run guy and his passing game loves Play Action, current ineffective ness is scarey.

  9. Cannot argue with your assessment here. Looney is average at best, and Kilgore is not even as good a Goodwin was last year. If the 49ers lose Iupati, Staley at any point, we will be drafting in the top 10. We assume our depth is a strength, but we also assume our depth is good. Not convinced at this point.

  10. Grant,
    The contract information that would reportedly make Alex Boone the 12th highest paid guard in the NFL has already been proven to be false. Matt Barrows has already stated if the niners truly offered Boone a contract worthy of the 12th highest paid guard in football, he would already be in camp.

    The 49ers offered Alex an extension, not a new contract… that means for the remaining 2 seasons on his contract he would still be paid at a much lower rate than the 12th highest paid guard. Additionally who knows what that approximate pay rate will be 2 years from now.

  11. Boone doesn’t want to be paid so-so guard money because he is a really good tackle subbing as a guard. I don’t blame him. ‘Pati is overhyped. He’s terrible in pass protection and clumsy in run blocking. Martin is 3rd string, period.

    Unfortunately the Yorks are famous tight wads. Their new stadium stinks, the team is coming apart at the seams and no one knows how to right the ship. It’s a damn shame cause I’ve been a Niners fan since 1968. But “Niners” means something far different now like when the Raiders moved to Los Angeles. It might be 40 miles to Santa Clara but there has been a sea change both financially and philosophically. Greedy bastards…

    1. “Tight wads,and stinks” are crap terms. Im sure the yorks are better at what they do, and at building stadiums, than whatever it is you do. Why not just they like to hold on to their money, or their new stadium grass is unfit for the nfl… No need for name calling

    2. @Ghost,

      Could you be more Clueless about the “tight wad” Take?

      Baalke & Paraag, you know….The Front Office People handle the Purse Strings not Jed like most well run Organizations.

      1. And who pays Baalke and Paraag? Who calls the shots? Talk about clueless but then you live in Folsom…

        And Steel, touche, point well taken… ;- )

        1. Ghost, its all fun my man. We are all here for the same reason. To give our take on our beloved team. Much respect sir

  12. The o-line certainly is a major concern. Even though Iupati and Staley seemed to play poorly in the preseason scrimmage, you have to think they will return to form. They are proven starters. Kilgore, Looney, and Martin side by side scares me to death. If the 9ers can’t run the ball they will have a horrible season. It’s as simple as that.

    I still think CK’s maturation process is what scares me just as much as the problems on the o-line. Judging from his footwork in the preseason and some of his accuracy issues, it appears he hasn’t put any time into improving his mechanics. My contention is that unless CK puts in all the extra work needed to improve his footwork then he is as good as he will ever be right now. He’s been pretty good but his potential ceiling is much higher than what he’s shown so far. We need to wait for a real game to see how far he’s come but preseason has not been encouraging.

    1. Houston, i think Kaep is putting in work onhis footwork. And touch, and accuracy, and everything else. Maybe he’s as good as he’ll ever be. According to coaches and players, he puts in tons of work on all that, we dont see it so we have to take their word for it. But im going to see te preseason this way. In 2011 we didn’t show much of anything in the preseason, and with us apparently putting in a new offense, we aren’t showing much of anything either. Kaep has led scoring opportunity drives this preseason, just not td drives. With that said if he would have played more he would have led more.

  13. One thing that i noticed is that kaep is usinghis backs as pass catchers some more. One way to fix the oline problem or hide it in my opinion is to switch from a two te set to a 2rb set. Let 1 block(gore, hyde) send the other in the flat(james,miller). Its gets the ball out of his hands quicker and gets his accuracy up. These high accuracy quaterbacks use their rb alot in passing schemes. It seems like ours is only use as a last ditch the ball option.

  14. Clearly Grant didn’t see Martin’s 1.3 overall grade against scrubs from PFF. According to some on here that makes him a quality back up.

    1. Not quite. Martin’s play hasn’t been bad the last 2 weeks. Does he holes in his game? Of course. That’s why he’s a backup.

        1. Ah. It raises a good point though.Did you hear about Mike Zimmer going off on PFF yesterday?

          1. Absolutely and he referenced many points that you, myself and others have made and not just about grades but about trying to scout or grade by watching game film. When a ball lands on empty turf you’ll never know if it was the receiver or QB’s fault unless you’re in the film room the next day listing to which one gets chewed out. Here is a quote from Zimmer;

            “I look at the grades and I can’t tell you what a 0.7 is or anything like that,” said Zimmer, who is in his first year as head coach. “I know the people that are grading our games and our defenses and our offenses, they don’t know if the tackle gets beat inside he wasn’t sliding out to the nickel, or who our guys are supposed to cover. I guarantee they don’t know who’s in our blitz package and what they’re supposed to do.”

            The other thing the grades don’t take into account is the level of competition. In the case of Martin, what ends or line backers was he going up against. Do they adjust the grade based upon the strength of the players he faces? If not then it’s even harder to take those kinds of grades seriously.

            1. I don’t think they take the opponent into consideration. Their grades are a good reference point and I’ve found them to be a fairly accurate representation of how someone played.

              Over a third of the league uses their service which speaks to their value.

              1. “Over a third of the league uses their service”

                I’d be curious to know the extent of that “use.”

              2. There are things they track and provide to teams that aren’t included on the public site.

        2. PFF and FO are not perfect by any means, but they do provide valuable info and point out things the average fan doesn’t notice. Stats are not infallible, but they are helpful.

          Interesting that Chris Collinsworth bought into PFF.

    1. David Mims, who the Ravens released, played Tackle, but at 6’8 330, he’d be worth a look at Guard….

        1. Good question that Boone alleviated, but I don’t know. Personally, I think they’ll be just fine, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the 49ers extend Looney in the similar fashion they did Kilgore…..

          1. Yeah, I don’t see the 49ers bringing in someone who couldn’t make another team’s roster to be a starter on the offensive line. I think it’s either Looney or Boone at RG.

              1. Yep. We definitely need more head cases like Incognito on the team. And the more penalties against our OL the better.

      1. Max Starks also got released. He played in the steelers power run game. He might be worth a look but at 32, it might be a one season only look.

  15. These are getting funnier and funnier. At first it was annoying coming here and seeing all the negativity but now I just can’t help but laugh.

    First off, Anthony Davis will be back week 1 and is practicing now, I’m confident they kept him in shape. Second, I’m sure Kilgore is either an upgrade from Goodwin or if not then he’s at least an equal replacement.

    Now Looney is still a question mark, but I have a hunch Boone will be back soon, but that’s just a hunch.

    Martin seems to add solid depth at tackle, Seymour has also looked solid. I’m still not sure who will be behind Kilgore, but we also have Snyder coming back and Marin back by midseason.

    Thanks for the laugh Grant.

    What’s even funnier is that when the season gets started and we put all the worries to rest, you will still find some way to make justify yourself.

      1. Leo,

        That was CFC. He predicted Hampton would make the final roster…unless he was joking again. I never can tell with him.

          1. I dont always leave a comment but when i do im usually messing with someone.

  16. This article is ridiculous. I have news for everyone!!! No matter what happens- Alex Boone is going to play for the niners this season! It is true!!!

    So let’s stop with the constant worry about the guy. Even if the niners signed boone today- he will not play any more or less this season than he will with no deal. No matter what he lost all that time of conditioning- and he will probably not be fit to play for a month or two. Just stop talking about him.

    Looney is improving- he doesnt look terrible at all. Lets all remember watching chilo rachel in any preseason… Looney hasnt looked that bad ever…

    The line is going to be ok.

  17. In the NFL it is essential that every offense has an offensive line that can be replied on like a strong, sturdy back bone. The 49ers offensive line right now looks to have some back spasms to say the least. I think for the first 4 games of the season we are going to see an offensive line try to find its way through the minor stiffness.

    Between injuries, holdouts and first time starters, the line is going to have to rely upon solid technique and most of all, cohesion. It is fair to say that most offensive lineman in the NFL do not really take a stranglehold of their craft until the first 3 years of being in the trenches full time. With first time starters Joe Looney and Daniel Kilgore, these guys are going to need Mike Solari to be his best in helping them identify the right calls and have the pin point accuracy of their assignments week in and week out. Throw in the fact that Iupati is still recovering from a broken fibula and re-establishing his conditioning, balance, and agility, stalwart left tackle Joe Staley will be leaned on like a steel alloy crutch. Same could be said about the outspoken right tackle Anthony Davis who will be trying to bring in the swag and hardihood with the low key, greenness of Joe Looney on the right side.

    Time is all that is required for this unit right now. Unfortunately time is not on their side. With the instability and influx situation of the line, these hogs tries need to give their new million dollar QB and this revamped passing game the time needed to make plays downfield.

    1. Thanks for stating a whole lot of obvious. On the flip side, at least you are posting football comments now. That’s a change for you…..

  18. I agree Suede, the line may not be as good as it was last year but it will be fine. Looney will look better playing next to davis that he will anytime playing next to martin.
    Also I dont get any leverage Boone has. He wants more money with 2 years left on his contract. The 49ers said they wont trade him(unless they get a high draft pick) which no team will do cause they will have to restructure his contract also. I dont see the 49ers budging(I am sure they would waive fines for not showing etc), so his options are play out the 2 years then sign a big deal at that point, or sit on the non-injured non-reporting list for the next two seasons and then try to sign a deal at that point? Not many teams are going to throw huge money at a guy that has been sitting at home for two years. What am I missing?

    1. Problem is we have no depth. We need to scour the NFL scrap heap over the next two weeks in hopes of finding an overlooked asset that fits our system.

      1. The problem isn’t a lack of depth on the o-line; it’s the play of the likely starters, particularly at C and G. The starters were the ones who gave up the quick hits on Kaepernick. Bringing in new backups isn’t going to fix that problem.

        1. Exactly Claude. Lets just continue to develop the guys we drafted and have been in camp. We have one of the best coaching staffs in the game and maybe best oline position coach to rely on. No waiver wire cut is gonna come in now and start.
          The question I have is can Kaepernick make enough plays with this WR’s group before the oline has time to gel and get it figured out?

            1. Dallas might be just what the doctor ordered for a offense in flux. Thank goodness we still have a top 5 defense and a wobbly Tony Romo week 1. After that it gets a little harsh with Bears, Cards, and Eagles. Yikes.

          1. That’s a million dollar question. He has not looked like a relaxed leader back there. He flees when pressure presents itself, then throws wildly or turns it over.
            I’m not sure if relying on CK gives me confidence. Maybe an RB by committee initially to gain the confidence of this offensive line while everyone gets into a better rhythm than what’s been shown in 3 preseason games.

            1. That’s a million dollar question. He has not looked like a relaxed leader back there. He flees when pressure presents itself, then throws wildly or turns it over.

              Alex Smith had the same problems behind the horrible offensive lines he played with Prime. It’s funny how a QB struggles when the play at the OL is shoddy.

              1. No I can’t keep up because you are a moron if you think I’m gonna touch the Alex Smith saga. The entire fan base has moved on. Apparently you have not! Good luck with that.

              2. No Prime. Unlike you, I don’t have an obvious agenda pertaining to Kaep and a fetish of making a jack@$$ out of myself on here. Didn’t Smith play behind several lines that was weak on one side which affected his play? Well Kaep looks to have the same problem currently, only for him it’s coming from the left side thanks to the interesting regression of Iupati. So the situation then with Smith and the one now with Kaep ARE SIMILAR.
                Like I said, try to keep up if you can Prime. You might want to get your alter egos Axel and Guapo to help you do so. Just remember not to fight with yourself.

              3. FDM,

                Or you could stand in the pocket, let the play develop and make a quick affirmative decision and throw the ball?

                He did that and it resulted in his arm being hit as he threw multiple times and a hit in the back that resulted in a fumble.

                You can’t look at the protection on Sunday and blame the QB. QB’s can’t make plays if they don’t have time or a clean pocket.

              4. Right on point Rocket. It’s of interesting that the side of the OL that most expected to be the strength is actually looking like the weak link.

              5. Rocket who said I was talking about last Sunday? Its something Kaepernick did not do enough of last year. Let the play develop and if you have to take a shot, welcome to the NFL. Overall he needs to have better patience in the pocket is my point.

              6. FDM,

                We were all talking about this past Sunday so I figured you were doing the same. Either way, Kap isn’t going to make strides as a pocket passer unless the protection holds up. That is a larger concern for me right now than whether Kap has improved his footwork or vision.

            2. He flees when pressure presents itself or throws wildly or turns it over.

              Well the idea is to flee so you don’t get hit before you can complete your throwing motion ( ball fly’s wildly) or get stripped from behind ( fumble). Most QB do not look comfortable when the protection breaks down and especially if it never existed.

              1. Or you could stand in the pocket, let the play develop and make a quick affirmative decision and throw the ball?

              2. Kurt Warner and Dan Marino were guys that can stand in the pocket at the very last minute and flick the ball with their quick release, so they didn’t need that much tune, just a split second.
                Kaep has that big windup, he doesn’t have a quick release, he makes up for it by have a cannon for an arm. But that’s why he also struggles with touch passes.
                Even in his third year, he’s still a work in progress.

    2. Literally the best thing that the niners could do with the Boone situation is to completely destroy him. Fine him his whole salary so he makes nearly nothing this season and he doesnt get any work- then do the same thing next year.

      The guy is a tackle…. he makes no real difference.

      The lesson for other players on the niners roster not to hold out is much more valuable than Boone being a tackle for the niners- it is simple as that.

      1. That kind of thinking is not merely simple, it’s simplistic. That’s not the way successful teams operate.

        Do you really believe that offensive linemen, particularly tackles, make no difference? If so, then you and I are watching different games.

        1. The guy is a tackle on a team with two starting tackles… and then the niners have Martin…. Boone is not the best guard in the world- he is a bit taller than a perfect guard. I think Looney will be better in the long run-

          When I say Boone doesn’t make a difference, I am saying Boone makes no real difference for the niners. In all honestly- if Boone had a season ending injury, it would cause a small ripple. The niners losing Dorsey for the season is bigger than losing Boone. I just think the writers are making a bigger deal of this than necessary because there isnt that much to write about.

          1. Thanks for the clarification. I hope you are correct about Looney being better.

            I just think the writers are making a bigger deal of this than necessary because there isnt that much to write about.

            I think Gabbert’s improved play deprived Grant of a topic. That said, the o-line is far and away my biggest concern.

          2. But if one of those 2 starting tackles goes down, he can play both. He is not merely a guard. He has the experience to boot. If Staley or AD goes down, who would you have more confidence in to take over, Boone or J. Martin, Bykowski,or Snyder?

            1. Probably Boone, but that is based on one game against St. Louis in which Joe Looney also looked great at RG. Martin for all the flack he’s taking in here, has played pretty well this preseason especially as a pass blocker. Boone couldn’t beat out Davis at RT which is why Davis is sitting there with an extension and Boone is not. Boone is versatile, but was not very good at RG last season when you actually look at his play instead of remembering fondly back to 2012. He is a Tackle playing Guard, and is a backup Tackle on this team. The money they offered is likely commiserate to that.

              I think Suede is probably right in how this will go down if Boone refuses to show although I think all would be forgiven pretty quickly if he were to show up early in the season.

              FDM you say bring him in and then get some done, but the problem is he won’t come in until something is done. That is the standoff here. The team has said they will talk when he shows up, and Boone has said he won’t show up until they talk. Both sides have drawn a line in the sand and neither will likely budge. This is looking like a no win situation for either side, especially Boone who is not only not getting more money with this strategy, but losing what he was scheduled to make. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

            2. As of this moment? Jonathan Martin has my confidence. The damage from Boone’s hold out is already done. When he comes back he is going to be rusty and out of shape.

              look up stats for how well hold outs do when they return. Most of the time they get injured. Boone’s season is pretty much a wash. And that’s ok.

          3. Mid, you need to relax. Just saying you can make a point on here without bringing up Alex Smith. The reason being is you start a dialogue most of us have moved on from. Be creative, think it through, make different analogies. You are bright guy, I know you have it in you. No need to be hostile!

            1. I bring all evidence to the table whether it will tick off anyone or not Prime. The weakness with the OL is part of the reason that Smith struggled and why Kaep struggled to gain traction against the Chargers hence why I brought it up. I always do my best to look at both sides of the coin in regards to anything that I talk about. Always have and always will.

              No need to be hostile!

              Remember your 11:26 A.M. post? You bring up good points on here at times, but don’t go attacking another poster and then tell them not to be hostile if they retort tersely due to that attack.

      2. I don’t know Suede. Boone holds value. He can play 4 out of the 5 positions on the offensive line. He has a nasty demeanour and brings a lot of swag to that unit. Now Im of the belief you should not restructure contracts but you have to bring him in and then either get something done or trade him now. Not too many guys his size have the versatility he does.

        1. What do you think the niners would get in a trade? like a 4th round pick? I don’t know if you are noticing, but the niners have too many draft picks as it is. The team cut a starting CB in Cooper last year- and I worry about them doing the same this year if they dont keep Acker and Johnson (Both are solid)

          The value is giving everyone a lesson- Don’t become a boone.

          Boone may end up not playing football for two years and making almost nothing while doing it. Good luck on finding a rich contract at 30 with no game tape for two years.

          1. I would not even be able to guess what a return via trade would bring for Boone. My point is guys like Boone need to have greater value towards them just because of the insurance he brings.
            Give him an incentive laden deal and then look at his contract at the end of the year. Cannot let him sit all year. They need him, or will need him late in the year.

            1. Well he will be back at week 11 regardless. His only value this season will be as a backup anyway.

        2. They’ve signed Boone as a backup. He played well as a starter. Why shouldn’t he be paid as a starter?.

          1. Because he’s signed for two more years at his current salary and didn’t play that well last year. I’m guessing the team would be open to an extension under the right terms, but Boone likely wants the final two years of his deal ripped up and renegotiated which isn’t going to happen.

  19. just read this too, seems like the 49ers FO has all the leverage IMO:
    In order to accrue a full season of service in the terms of an NFL contract, a player needs to be on the team for six regular season games—that’s either on the 53-man roster or on injured reserve. If Boone was to hold out for long enough that he doesn’t acquire an “accrued season,” his contract wouldn’t move on to the final year of his deal. It is my understanding the deal would toll, essentially pushing the contract through 2016.

    1. andrew:

      That’s why most people expect Boone to report after the 11th game, at the latest.

  20. I don’t know the rules, can he just report? The niners would have no leverage on that end, he can just sit out 10 weeks and then show up week 11?

    1. Yes he can report for the final 6 games and get an accrued season, and that is what I expect to happen unless he has a change of heart.

      The agents Boone has are notorious for this type of strategy, and their previous clients have held out for the first 10 games, so Boone is likely to follow.

      As far as leverage goes, Boone has none unless the Niners have a string of injuries. Other than that, they will be fine without him. The reason is, Boone wasn’t that good last year and the Oline as a whole hasn’t been great either. Goodwin, Boone and Iupati were all ranked poorly in certain facets of their positions last season, and it wasn’t too hard to see the struggles they had in the games. This Oline has a reputation that doesn’t hold up any longer. They were very inconsistent last season, and Iupati and Goodwin especially struggled at times in pass protection. That seems to have continued over to this year for Iupati.

    2. andrew:

      It’s basically what Vincent Jackson did in 2010. His agents that season are Boone’s current agents.

  21. So in theory if the 49ers line is doing fine and he reports, they would just make him inactive on game days and start the whole thing over next season, with him still being under contract?
    Sounds like he will be leaving lots of money on the table by doing this, all the fines he receives from us for not showing up and then his next deal wont be as big as he thinks, not a lot of teams looking to pay top dollar for a holdout that hasnt played real football in 2 years

    1. Andrew,

      It really is a stupid strategy when you consider the player wastes prime years of his career to earn his next contract, and loses most of his salary while doing so.

      The agents and the player look at it like it’s better to avoid injury by withholding services for a contract they don’t believe is fair, but if he comes back in week 11, plays and injures himself, then it was for nothing, and he’s still sitting there with another year on his deal and nothing to show financially for the season he just wasted.

      1. Unless I am mistaken the Agents are losing nothing in this hold out because they are not linked to the contract he is currently on. They have everything to gain by Boone signing a new contract and nothing to lose. I wonder if Boone has ever considered this aspect.

      1. According to PFT, Jay Glazer is reporting that NE will receive tight end Tim Wright and an undisclosed draft pick.

        1. It’s a good move for Tampa. As bad as we think the 49ers o-line play has been, it’s way better than what Tampa’s has been so far.

          1. Unless Mankins’ play has deteriorated significantly, or the undisclosed draft pick is a first rounder, I think it’s a great move for Tampa.

    1. Good move by both parties. The Patriots get a quality #2 TE and some cap relief while the Bucs get a great veteran guard.

  22. maybe ill get shunned for this, but i thought the right side of the offensive line showed improvement from game to game over the course of the preseason. what surprised me was Iupati, his play was terrible. Probably the worst game ive seen him play as a starter. I think with Davis coming back we’ll be ok, not great, but ok. I think this coming draft will be time to invest in a better back up QB and offensive lineman like they invested in the defensive line.

    1. dc9er:

      I think this coming draft will be time to invest in … offensive lineman like they invested in the defensive line.

      I think they did that in this year’s draft with Marcus Martin and Brandon Thomas. I also think the trade for Jonathan Martin was an investment in o-line depth.

      1. I felt Marcus Martin was a need at center to be a starter. I would like them to invest a little more on the offensive line depth. Develop a guy that could really step in and be starting quality. A guy like Kilgore is serviceable, so is Jonathan Martin, but what I’m hoping they have in reserve has a bigger upside than these two career backups.

        1. We were of the same mind about M&M. I thought it was imperative that he win the job from Kilgore so the 49ers could own the middle of the field instead of just renting it…..

  23. Brothers take care of brothers. Last year we needed a receiver, John parted ways with Boldin and he landed in our laps. This year if there are any decent guards cut from the Ravens, you’ll see us pick that up too.

  24. More bad news. We have that lights out defense in week 1. I wished we could play against 2nd unit caliber defenses for another two weeks, for more practice with the C and RG.. :-0

  25. Looks like the CB we probably would have drafted in 2015 just landed himself in some serious hot water. Lied about saving his nephew…I read the story and asked myself, if he jumped and sprang both ankles, who saved the nephew? His story said there was no one there to help. Reminds me of my 8 year old trying to tell me how it couldn’t possibly be her that cut Barbie’s hair…

    1. If the hot water he landed in was deep enough he surely wouldn’t have sprained his ankles at all.

    2. Did you read the entire story?
      He said he crawled to the pool in order to pull the kid out.
      The young man sounds like a hero to me.
      Your take is interesting.
      What makes you think he’s lying?

      1. In my opinion, I think it is far fetched to crawl to the pool and pull a youth out who is struggling from the side of pool. If the nephew was struggling and within reach of the wall, why did he need assistance?
        Apparently I am not the only one though who thinks this story is far fetched. The school is now investigating the incident as well. Apparently some calls have come in that contradict his accounting of what happened.

        1. If the nephew was struggling and within reach of the wall, why did he need assistance?

          What is the medical condition of the nephew? Also did he have a massive cramp that made it unable to pull his self out of the pool?
          These are just a couple of the possibilities as to why (or if) the nephew was struggling.

          The school is now investigating the incident as well.

          Isn’t that the norm when it comes to situation with a student let alone a star player? I’d be more worried if they didn’t investigate in order to find out what happened.

          1. Any one with experience with a drowning victim understands the how ludicrous this story is. I don’t discredit the possibilities. just the integrity of the “hero” retelling the story.
            I hope if nothing else he learns a valuable lesson many NFL stars can attest to. You can’t trust the so called “friends” making peanuts who can’t wait for their 15 seconds of fame at your expense.

            1. We’ll know when the facts come out. I can see both sides, especially if the reports of his nephew not knowing how to swim turn out to be true or unfounded.

        2. He said that he boy couldn’t swim.
          There are reports of his story being questioned, but it sounds as if the coach supports him…right now anyway.
          Maybe it is a lie.
          It just seemed interesting to me that you could have come to that conclusion from reading the original story.
          It seems you read one or more of the follow-up stories and drew you conclusion from one of those.
          But if it is a lie, the boy is lying too, right?
          Being a 7 year-old, he won’t be able to lie for long.
          I’m interested to see where this whole thing leads…

    3. Matt I do’nt see the 9ers drafting any CB’s in 2015 especially with Reaser redshirting. I think our defensive back field is set for the next 6 to 10 years.

      1. You don’t see an upgrade for Cox? You think that Reaser and his torn ACL is better than options coming out in 2015? I think the team will continue to shape and mold the secondary.
        This team is in the habit of buying Salvaged Vehicles. Just ask the Rams how well that works.

  26. Like some of you, I think Looney will do well. Remember that he played the Rams well last year in a game that counted, despite a top front four. The Bird (Looneybird) has more experience now and, I presume, continued to get stronger. So I’m going on the belief that when Davis returns, the guards and tackles will perform like last year, give or take. That leaves center, a big question mark for me and most of you, I guess. We’ll just have to see about Kilgore. But even if he’s fine, there is questionable depth at that position. Center is my biggest concern about any position on the team right now. That said, there are likely to be one or two castoffs from other teams at the final cut that we can sign to back up Kilgore. When/if that happens, my biggest concern will be Kaepernick. I’m surprised to hear myself say that but have to admit I’m starting to wonder about his common sense. I love his physical talent, work habits, and devotion/sacrifice for the team, but he takes unnecessary risks sometimes that might make the difference between winning the division and a wild card.

  27. Not seeing why folks are down on Kaepernick’s preseason. For me he’s made only 2 poor throws. The first was an overthrow while scrambling to his right against Denver. The second is the throw to McDonald on Sunday.

    1. He has lacked touch on the throws that needed it, keeps staring down his target, and seems to still have poor pocket awareness.

      1. What throws are you referring to Mid? I haven’t seen a lack of touch myself. I also haven’t seen poor pocket awareness other than the fact he keeps getting hit while he stands in it.

        1. While I am not down on Kaepernick, there were throws to McDonald and Johnson in the Denver game that were thrown seemingly too hard and/or off target. McDonald made a great catch to bail out Kaep, but Johnson wasn’t able to reel in the throw to him.

          That said, I’ve seen clear improvement in some areas (going through progressions in the Denver game to name one) and don’t think Kaepernick has had a bad preseason at all.

          1. No argument from me that every pass has been perfect, but I was curious to read what Mid viewed as lacking touch.

            So far I’ve seen a couple of changes in Kaps throwing. The first came on the deep sideline throw to Lloyd. Previously Kap has put little air under his deep throws, but that one he did and it was right about where it needed to be. The second has been the checkdowns where he clearly took something off the throws.

            There’s no doubt he’ll fall back into trying to gun it when it isn’t warranted at times, but at least we’ve seen a change in some instances.

            The pocket presence comment I don’t agree with at all. For the most part he’s hung in there and tried to make a play, and when he’s had time he’s come off a matchup he didn’t like and either went to a second option, or the checkdown.

            The one thing he is still guilty of is holding the ball loosely when scrambling. It cost them a fumble in the NFCCG, and he fumbled twice on Sunday. He’s got to secure the ball better when he leaves the pocket.

          2. “McDonald made a great catch to bail out Kaep”

            Was that the one where he was kind of falling backwards when he caught it?

              1. rocket:

                Funny how that happened. Looks like some people wrote him off prematurely.

              2. Hey guys, do you think McDonald can now be what Walker used to be with the Niners (the position that Walker used to play)?

              3. They already use him all over the field just like they did with Walker, and now it seems as though he is ready to make that jump from year 1 to 2 we hear so much about.

              4. CB,

                It’s this instant gratification mindset that has taken over the world. I want him to be good now and if he isn’t, get him out of here and trade a 7th round pick for a probowler.


                They’ve started to do some of the same things they used to with Walker. They are moving him around a little more, and had him lined up in the backfield a couple of times. You can see they are easing him into it to keep him focused and it’s working pretty well.

              5. Thanks, Jack and Rocket! I know it still early but I’m starting to get little excited on the prospect of McDonald playing the role Walker used to play. McDonald might be the missing piece in the offense that we need to beat the Seahawks in Seattle.

        2. I HOPE he’s aware that he’s being hit!
          He’s definately aware that his starting LG is playing like crap.
          I agree with you guys…his throws look serviceable to me thus far.
          He just needs more time to see his WRs.
          I’d stare down my first option too if I knew I wouldn’t have time to go through my progressions before being nailed…

        3. My apologies for not responding sooner Rocket. Claude pretty well nailed the throws that I believed needed some touch to them, but as he said (and I referenced in my post after watching the game last night on NFL Network), Kaep has improved in some areas, especially in going through his progressions. Jack just asked why some people were down on, and I gave some reasons as to why they are. I don’t think Kaep hasn’t had a bad preseason, but it hasn’t been good either. His performance has been down the middle, which is expected due to him still being a little raw in technique and also the poor play by Iupati.

      2. Which pass(es) showed poor touch? Perhaps the Johnson 3rd down play against Denver, but he had a man in his face if I recall correctly.

        Poor pocket presence? He looks improved there to me. He’s doing a good job of going through progressions when given time.

        Speaking of pocket presence, that play by Gabbert on Sunday when he was flushed to the right, reset and hit McDonald was textbook. Really good stuff that I think was overlooked.

        1. Jack:

          Speaking of pocket presence, that play by Gabbert on Sunday when he was flushed to the right, reset and hit McDonald was textbook. Really good stuff that I think was overlooked.

          That might be because it didn’t support the chosen narrative.

          1. You must have missed my post last night where I said that Gabbert had given Johnson plenty of chances to wrest the backup position from him, but didn’t do so against the Chargers Jack.

            You also must have missed my post last night as well Razor. Here were my thoughts on Ellington:
            I think the team has Ellington playing in the wrong spot. If he truly does have a second gear, then that would be better served outside and not in the slot. The reason I say this is because of the current influx of hybrid CB/S coming into the NFL playing at NCB. These guys can only be beat by a big or fast WR. I maintain that Ellington is quicker than fast, but I have see seen him go into that second gear and…what can I say? Color me impressed. But I feel that intangible is being wasted where he is currently playing and would be better suited on the outside where he has a better chance to showcase that second gear.

            1. He can play outside, inside, anywhere you can think to line him up, he can do it….

              1. I never said that he couldn’t do all of that, just that I think he would do better on the outside Razor.

            2. It seems to me that it would be easier to jam/press Ellington on the outside than it would be in the slot. Lining up in the slot allows him a better opportunity to use his quickness.

              1. Well, if the team wants to use Boldin in the slot when it goes to 3 WRs, there will be more opportunity on the outside.

    2. Because the Niners aren’t lighting up the scoreboard like the team to the north is my guess.

  28. I’ve seen enough in this world to know that it is far better for the soul to root for the underdog. Gabbert got completely thrashed in Jacksonville. I hope he can right his personal ship and be a decent QB…

      1. The Seahawks and Carroll have been fined $300K and will lose 2 offseasons workouts next season as a result of violating the contact rules in the CBA.

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