49ers 2011 Season Review: Offensive Line

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In celebration of the 49ers remarkable turnover this season, Niner Noise has reviewed each position and handed out grades.  Today also marks the one year anniversary of the hiring of Jim Harbaugh.  Who would have thought the 49ers would be in the playoffs as a second seed and winners of the NFC West a year ago from today?

The 49ers season of revival in 2011 was engineered by Harbaugh as he brought in the right coaches, kept the rights one from the previous regime, and installed the offense, defense and special teams.  No matter how good the coaches or the system a team sets up, you have to execute everything on the field when it counts.  The 49ers at all positions this season accomplished this.  A perfect storm of the right coaches, players peaking with career seasons that included players already on the roster, along with the free agents signed by the 49ers, came together to catapult them back into the playoffs.  Here is a look back at the 49ers 2011 season:

Quarterbacks season reviewed by Eric Melendez

Wide receivers/tight ends season reviewed by Jason Bertolucci

Defensive backs reviewed by Mike Zamora

Defense front-seven reviewed by Michael Hart

Running backs season reviewed by David Estrada

Special teams reviewed by Jared Quan

Click read more to view the Offensive Line’s season review:

Well it looks like I’m up to bat now for Niner Noise’s  season review series.  In this edition, I’ll take a look at the big boys up front for SF, it’s time to review the offensive line.  I’m a subscriber to the statistics are nice, but they don’t always tell the whole story way of thinking.  I believe this is true in all sports, especially football and there’s no better example than the 49ers 2011 OL.

Depending on where you look the 9ers line ranks between 21st and 26th in the league.  At first glance, point blank, that sucks, no matter what Joe Staley says.  Right?  Wrong!

Follow along to page 2 and I’ll tell you why

The 49ers are a run heavy team, ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing.  The Niners rushed for 2038 yards on 497 carries, good for a 4.1 yard average.  But again, don’t pay too much attention to the stats.  Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman called an ultra conservative offense this season.  A run first team that picked its spots very wisely and rarely took any unnecessary risks.  To be blunt about it, the team was predictable.  Teams knew the 49ers were going to run a whole bunch and rely on the short to intermediate passing game. What they didn’t expect was the leagues best Defense and Special Teams to go along with the best ball control, field position play in the league.  Like most of the rest of the offensive unit, the OL didn’t necessarily sparkle, but it did enough for the 49ers to go 13-3.

Player by Player Breakdown and Season Grades:

Left Tackle: Joe Staley: Staley blossomed this season at the LT position.  A big factor to Joe’s performance is his health.  After missing 14 games over the last 2 seasons due to injury.  Staley played all 16 games this season, was voted to both the Pro Bowl and All Pro 2nd team.

Staley’s Grade: A

Left Guard Mike Iupati: Iupati is the engine that runs this offensive line.  He still has room to grow in terms of pass protection, simply put, this kid is a monster.  The Niners run behind Iupati far more than anyone else and he could be the best pulling guard in the NFL.  Mike started all 16 games this year, committing only 4 penalties and allowing 3.5 sacks.

Iupati’s Grade: A-

Center: Jonathan Goodwin: Goodwin had a slow start to the season, his first with the 49ers.  He struggled to ward off Adam Snyder to earn the starting spot in training camp.  The lines lack of chemistry early in the year was the most obvious when you watched the center position.  Still, Goodwin turned in a very solid season, starting all 16 games for the 49ers.  Committing just 2 penalties while giving up 6 sacks.

Goodwin’s Grade: B

Right Guard: Adam Snyder: Snyder showed off his versatility this year taking the Center competition down to the wire then switching over to RG after week 3.  Snyder started 13 games and while he was efficient, he’s not a good that stood out.  The least effective run blocker on a run heavy team never has too much job security.

Snyder’s Grade: C

Right Tackle: Anthony Davis: Davis developed nicely in his second season in the NFL.  Considered a very raw talent coming out of Rutgers, Davis is somewhat still a developmental player.  Davis’s is a powerful run blocker that moves his feet very well for his size.  Mental mistakes can kill Davis who led the OL with 7 penalties and 9.5 sacks allowed.  For Davis to be the star OT the 49ers envisioned when they traded up to draft him he must improve on his mental mistakes and pass protection.

Davis’s Grade: C

Bench: Alex Boone OT, Chilo Rachal OG, Daniel Kilgore OG/OC: The 49ers have a ton of confidence in former bad boy Alex Boone.  Boone can play both sides of the line at OT and has practiced some at OG.  The 49ers recently rewarded him with a 4 year contract extension.  Look for Boone who played in all 16 games, committing just 1 penalty and surrendering zero sacks.  To get a chance to start at RG next season.  Chilo Rachal was replaced by Adam Snyder as the teams starting RG after week 3.  Rachal is a FA after this season, do not expect the 49ers to resign him.  Kilgore looked impressive during training camp but didn’t dress for most of SF’s games.  He made 1 appearance on the season, look for Kilgore to get every opportunity to compete at RG next season also.

Bench OL Grade: B

49ers OL Grade: B-


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