Alex Boone got used to having center Jonathan Goodwin on his left side through the first five-plus weeks of the season. After spending his entire football career as a tackle, Boone made the transition to right guard this offseason, helping improve the offensive line into one of the team’s strengths.
But the unit might have to do some shuffling with the short week of preparation, as Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Giants, missed Monday’s walkthrough practice and saw a neurologist. Once Staley went down in the third quarter after being hit hard on Antrel Rolle’s second interception return, Boone moved out to left tackle while veteran Leonard Davis filled in as right guard.
For Boone, it took a moment to adjust to the left edge of the offensive line.
“It was a little weird at first,” Boone said. “I looked over (to my left) and was, like, Jon? Jon? Where you at?”
Playing guard is nothing new for the 11-year vet Davis, as he was a three-time Pro Bowl guard with the Dallas Cowboys from 2007-09. But the second half of Sunday’s contest marked Davis’ first extensive playing time at the position after being used in select plays throughout the first five-plus games of the year.
“It felt good, but I know what my role is on this team,” Davis said. “No one can say anything different. For me to go out, I just felt more and more comfortable as it went along. Just getting in a groove of being out there, I did what I could do.”
The entire offensive line wasn’t happy with its performance against the star-studded Giants defensive line, as Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick were sacked a combined six times. But Goodwin said the new-look line held its own in the second half. 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh also acknowledged that second-string center Daniel Kilgore is capable of playing guard.
“There’s things I’m sure that they would both like to clean up,” Goodwin said of Boone and Davis. “But overall, I commend them for what they did. Especially Alex going from guard to left tackle, which is a tough position in this league.”
Not only does Boone have experience at tackle, having played there at Ohio State and sparingly through his two-plus years in the NFL, but he has had the guidance of teammates, both current and former. Boone, who takes a handful of practice snaps at tackle and filled in for an injured Staley in Week 14 at Arizona last year, labeled ex-49ers tackle Barry Sims as a huge influence.
“Just to be calm and confident in what you do,” Boone said he learned from players like Sims. “The biggest thing a lot of guys don’t have is confidence.”
Boone and company will need their confidence against a stout Seattle defensive line. Defensive tackle Red Bryant, at 6-foot-4, 323 pounds, is a load in the center of the defensive front and he’s surrounded by other talented players like Chris Clemons (5.5 sacks), Bruce Irvin (4.5 sacks) and Brandon Mebane (2.0 sacks). In all, the Seahawks are tied for seventh in the league with 17 sacks through six weeks of play.
“They’ve got a great team,” Davis said. “This division, it’s probably the strongest I’ve seen it in my career. That’s really saying a lot.”
But the 49ers only have three total days of preparation before Thursday’s primetime showdown on NFL Network. With two positions and a quality defense to learn, Boone will be a busy man this week.
“If I have to go home and watch film with my son, I’ll do it,” Boone said. “It is what it is, it’s a short week. I told my wife I’m not going to be around a lot this week so don’t expect me at home. I got a lot to do.”
Tags: Alex Boone, Joe Staley, Jonathan Goodwin, Leonard Davis
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