After the first full week of training camp Mike Singletary named Anthony Davis the starting right tackle and Mike Iupati the starting left guard on the offensive line. Davis, selected 11th, and Iupati, selected 17th, were expected to be named starters with how high they were drafted. No surprise in both being named starters to protect quarterback Alex Smith but I was surprised to see they were named so early in training camp. Trust me, this is a good surprise. This means Singletary has seen enough of the two to know they can handle all the snaps with the first-team offense and their mistakes will be minimal. Any setback from either Davis and/or Iupati from here until the start of the season will be a setback for the whole offense. Everything is in place with a leading receiver Michael Crabtree, a touchdown threat tight end Vernon Davis and a leading rusher in Frank Gore. The 49ers filled their most glaring need, offensive line, with Davis and Iupati. With both being named starters so early in camp shows how far along Davis and Iupati have come since OTA’s, mini-camp and through the first week of training camp. They have shown a grasp of Jimmy Raye’s offense however they are still developing as starters in the NFL. My only worry is that their learning curves will show up during games and affect the rest of the offense, especially Alex Smith. If Smith does not have the time he needs to make plays having Crabtree, Davis and Gore does not matter.
Now for some bad news
My excitement in hearing Davis and Iupati named the starters was quickly diminished after hearing starting center Eric Heitmann broke his left fibula during Monday’s morning practice. Heitmann will be out six to eight weeks. Heitmann is one of the best centers in the NFL and had not missed a start since breaking his leg in 2006. This is a huge blow to the 49ers offensive line and its development in becoming a strong force. With Heitmann out former starting left guard David Baas, who lost his job to Iupati, will take snaps under center and is expected to the starter. Baas has experience playing at center in college however he has only played at the position once since entering the NFL. The sooner Davis, Iuapti and Baas get a handle on their new duties the better the 49ers will be in the regular season.