The 49ers have two positions on the team that caused a considerable amount of consternation last season. Left guard and right tackle. In addition to not moving appreciably forward on running plays, the two fellows at these positions gave up a combined 17.5 sacks. Yikes!
This sort of desultory effort earned the 49ers Oline a well deserved spot in the honkers wing of the NFL House of Big Fellows. It also put the kibosh on Mike Singletary’s vision of a smash mouth running game and resulted in the 49ers going all in with its two 2010 first round draft picks, selecting right tackle Anthony Davis with pick #11 and left guard Mike Iupati with pick #17.
Cheers were then heard throughout the town, and from this site as well. Phone calls were immediately placed to Seattle, St. Louis, and Phoenix to inform those cities that their teams might as well not show up next year because we were going to stomp hell out of them and march straight into the playoff arena.
However, I suppose it is possible that one or both of these studs could be stiffs. It’s not like it has never occurred before that a first round guy is either no good or takes a few years to get good. The 49ers seem pretty cocky about neither guy fizzling, but what if the 49ers are, you know, WRONG?.
The first game of the year is in Seattle, where it gets a bit noisy. Even veteran players have trouble hearing the snap count and controlling their urge to jump it. Also, if this urge is controlled too well, you have Oline guys getting lit into by the defense instead of the approved way of vice versa. It is also the first game of the season and the first game of the whoop-de-doo Pete Carroll era in Seattle. There will be lots of noise and lots of adrenalin on the field that day.
The 49ers muffed this game last year, even though they were clearly the better team. It makes sense to me that at least for this one game it might be better to start the old guys, David Baas and Adam Snyder. They were good enough last year to win this game and should suffice to actually win it this year, or at least not be the cause of losing it. I have commissioned Berger to write Mike Singletary a letter expressing my preferences in this matter. Unfortunately, that letter might not arrive until mid-way through the season, somewhat diluting its intended purpose.
Beyond this game, one has to wonder how much better a rookie LG is going to be over a 6 year veteran in a contract year with a chip on his shoulder because everyone thinks he stinks. How many times will Iupati get schooled by a veteran Dlineman who subsequently steams into the backfield and flattens our QB? How much will Joe Staley fudge his own responsibilities to lean toward helping the rook? More worrisome, how many times will Jimmy Raye opt to run the ball, which would play to Iupati’s strength, rather than pass the ball and risk him being exposed?
Iupati has gotten the early lead on Davis in the who will start opening day derby. But Davis might actually be a better bet. For one, he plays RT where he will be more on his own and less of a coordinating-with-teammates guy, like an LG has to be. For another, he would be replacing Snyder, which unfortunately suggests how could he be any worse? Snyder gave up 9.5 sacks last year and was arguably one of the worst RTs in the league. The only consolation was that the right-handed QB could see Snyder whiff and have a few split seconds to abandon ship. Think what that 9.5 sacks could have been if Snyder was the blindside protector. Davis will also be more of a force in the running game than Snyder.
Training camp and pre-season will shed more light on the capabilities of our two new ballyhooed bullies, but for now one has to wonder how much better the team is going to be this year if either or both of these two guys is a stiff or a slow learner. Even if they play well, it’s hard to imagine our pass protection will be significantly improved. Which means the team will resume the effort to run the ball and run it some more and, what the heck, run it again.
Forcing these two guys into the lineup to justify their high draft pick status would never occur to our esteemed management fellows, would it? Hahaha. OF COURSE IT WOULD! Giving egos a distinct chance to be a liability this coming season, as well as the players those egos are counting on.