When the 2010 pre-season begins, many dilating and distended orbs will be pointing their laser like beams directly at Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, the highly touted #11 and #17 picks in last April’s draft. These large and nimble fellows will be expected to instantly upgrade our offensive line and turn it into a bruising, roaring, fire breathing … ahem … make it at last and at least into a respectable NFL line. One capable of pushing open some modest cleavage for our RBs to cavort through, while also preventing penetration into the sacred area of the 49er backfield (I’m blushing). Falling short of these accomplishments will turn Trent Baalke’s new found respect and admiration into sewerage in a blink of the many aforementioned eyes.
The 49er offensive line has been an embarrassment since 2006, the last year Larry Allen played like … Larry Allen. In 2007, he played like a guy who looks like Larry Allen. His precipitous decline was mostly, if not entirely, responsible for a chain of events that affected the 49er empire to the core. By playing matador to an onrushing Seahawk fellow name Rocky Benard in the 4th game of the season, Larry got the franchise QB disabled for two years, while also sending Mike Nolan down the path that led to the door that led to the street that wended downward to Denver and then sideways to Miami. This one play also led to Trent Dilfer performing standup comedy at QB until he was mercifully knocked to the sidelines and, like Nolan, on out the door and into the talking head studio.
Leave it to an ex-Cowboy to cause a train wreck in 49er land.
In 2008 and 2009, David Baas was expected to step into Larry’s cleats. He tried, limped, and pretty much failed. The left side of the line has been a sieve and a cleavageless eye sore during his woeful tenure there. Iupati is expected to remedy this problem.
Most of the attention on the right side of the Oline has been focused on the equally abysmal performance of the various RTs to take a crack at the position. Two, Jonas Jennings and Tony Pashos, landed on IR, and the 3rd, Adam Snyder, was one of the worst RTs in the league. Anthony Davis is expected to remedy this problem.
But the RG position bears serious scrutiny this coming pre-season, also. While the LG and RT are first round draft picks, our RG Chilo Rachal is a 2nd round, 3rd year player. He has been highly touted from day one, but also pinned with the dreaded “raw” label, coming into the league early as a junior. Chilo had a very ragged year in 2009, and only the injury to Pashos kept him in the starting lineup and allowed him to improve as the year played out. If this Oline is going to be anything near adequate, let alone dominant, Chilo has got to muscle up and fulfill his toutedness.
So, despite the general optimism about our Oline for 2010, there are three out of five positions that have yet to prove they are any good. Not only that, two are rookies who will make rookie mistakes. And continuity, the life blood of an Oline, let alone the much ballyhooed theme of this off season, will definitely not be present when we start the season. On the road and in Seattle.