Wins in the preseason are nice, but 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is more concerned with individual player development at this point of Training Camp. As he addressed the media on Wednesday at team headquarters, Roman offered his assessment of several players on the new-look San Francisco offense.
One of the biggest additions to the first-team unit – both literally and figuratively – has been lineman Alex Boone, who made the switch from tackle to guard this offseason. Boone earned the first crack at the position during the offseason program earlier this year and has progressed well, holding on to his starting spot thus far in camp.
At 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, Boone doesn’t possess the traditional build of an interior lineman. That hasn’t stopped him from impressing his coaches.
“Boone had a good game the other night,” Roman said. “I really like how he’s adapting to the guard position. Things happen faster at guard than it does at tackle and a lot of things can change in hurry in there at guard. There’s a lot of action, leverage is a premium, being able to play low, and Alex has really improved week-to-week.”
Proper pad level for a man of Boone’s size is paramount in the trenches, but it sounds like Boone has handled the challenge well.
But he’s not the only one going through a possible position change. Second-year backup Mike Person, a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, has also started to take practice reps at tackle after spending last season as a guard on the scout team.
Tackle isn’t entirely new to Person, as he excelled at the position during his college career at Montana State, earning first-team All-Big Sky honors after he didn’t allow a sack during his entire senior season.
“He just continues to develop,” Roman said. “He’s a young guy that had his first offseason of physical development which is so important for a lineman especially. He’s coming along and I expect good things from Mike the rest of this preseason. This is his second year in it so he’s no stranger to our system and he’s not learning so much now what to do, but how to do it.”
This year’s first-round pick A.J. Jenkins has been under the microscope throughout his first NFL offseason. While he turns in the occasional spectacular catch, Jenkins is still working on becoming a more consistent threat at receiver as he digests Roman’s demanding playbook.
“There’s a lot swirling through his mind right now,” Roman said. “He’s trying to do everything perfectly and in that process there’s going to be a drop here, a drop there. I’ve seen it with a lot of players over the years where they just work through that and they start relaxing and playing as opposed to thinking and playing. A.J’s doing a really a really good job all around.”
It’s not just the youngsters who have made significant strides this offseason. Vernon Davis lifted his career to new heights in 2011, especially with his historic postseason performance, but Roman said he sees more improvement in the seventh-year star.
Davis has regularly been spotted taking extra reps following the conclusion of practices at team headquarters, while Roman also noted his development into a complete player.
“Vernon [Davis] continues to have a great training camp, just becoming a very, very well-rounded tight end. Can’t say enough about Vernon Davis,” Roman said. “He’s a unique player who is really dialing in on the details of things and he has since the beginning of OTAs. Really excited about it. Vernon is really, really coming into his own as a player.”
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, Alex Boone, Mike Person, Vernon Davis
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