Mike Iupati has had an eventful offseason by a third-year offensive lineman’s standards.
Iupati turned a few heads when he showed up to 2012 offseason workouts with a buzz cut. The guard had been known for long hair, which reached the middle of his back for each of his first two NFL seasons.
The former first-round selection, No. 17 overall in 2010, donated his freshly sheered hair, grown over six years, to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
Iupati’s new haircut has morphed into a “modified Mohawk” more recently and it seems to be catching on, especially with the offensive line. Fellow offensive lineman Alex Boone, also a third-year pro, has been sporting a similar look the past few days.
“He really liked my hair style so he wanted to copy it,” Iupati joked when he spoke with the media on Wednesday.
With Iupati, Boone and Anthony Davis, the 49ers offensive line features three players who came out in 2010, only Boone went undrafted.
The trio will be asked to step up for their third season as the 49ers seek to defend their NFC West division crown.“We are coming along,” said Iupati, who’s started all 32 of his career games. “We have had a great offseason. You never know, the other side gets paid too, so we have to hold our end and fight.”
A major point of emphasis for the 49ers this training camp has been to improve their pass blocking while continuing to succeed in the game. Most offenses strive for a 50-50 balance of run to pass. The 49ers are no different.
The running game has undoubtedly been the strength of San Francisco’s offense the past few years. Last year, Iupati and the 49ers offensive line helped pave the way for Frank Gore’s fifth, 1,000-yard season.
The team’s ground success has carried over to this preseason with the 49ers having racked up 378-yards in two games, but the next exhibition matchup with a Denver Broncos will be another challenge.
The first teams are expected to see extended action in the third preseason game, and Iupati is taking a simple approach.
“All we do as an O-line is just try to play physical,” Iupati said. “We play together, do our job and hope the holes open up. You have to be able to run the ball before you pass it.”
That preparation will have to serve the starting offensive line well as they prepare to face Bronco’s All-Pro linebacker Von Miller in addition to Elvis Dumervil on Sunday.
Starting a new haircut trend within the team wasn’t the only thing Iupati did in the offseason. He also got married, and he and wife Ashley welcomed their first child into the world earlier this month.
Iupati’s experience as a newlywed could help as he and the rest of the offense continue to develop in year two under Jim Harbaugh.
Greg Roman can attest to the similarities between the early stages of a marriage and learning a new NFL offense.
The offensive coordinator correlated adjusting to a new scheme with the first six months of marriage where you are “still getting to know where the toothpaste goes” before after a while you get to know somebody. In case of the 49ers, that new “somebody” is a thick playbook.
The next step in the offense’s development begins on Sunday as they hope to improve in Denver ahead of the regular season.
“We just have to play as a unit,” Iupati said. “We are good right now. We just have to get better and better.”
Tags: Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati
Posted in Announcements | 4 Comments »