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49ers Pack Extra Punch on O-line

Posted Sep 11, 2012



Leave it up to Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh to find a way to use more than 2,000 pounds of offensive linemen on one play. It’s becoming a regular occurrence on the 49ers, who used seven big fellows on select snaps in the season-opening 30-22 win at Green Bay.

Exhibit A: Frank Gore’s touchdown run.

You may have noticed some extra beef near the line of scrimmage before Gore’s 23-yard dash in to the end zone. Not only was veteran Leonard Davis – all 6-foot-6, 350 pounds of him – lined up as a tight end, but second-year lineman Daniel Kilgore was used as a wing blocker in the backfield. It’s no surprise that Gore ran to the right side of the field behind Davis and Kilgore, before following down field blocks from fullback Bruce Miller to reach pay dirt.

“That’s the kind of football I like to play,” guard Alex Boone said. “I know a lot of the other guys enjoy it. Seeing big Leonard coming out there, it’s always fun to see the defense get real wide-eyed.”

Most teams carry seven active linemen on game days, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an offensive coordinator more creative than Roman, who finds ways to get all of his players involved. For Kilgore, it’s his best chance to contribute to the offense after spending the 2011 season on the sidelines.

On Gore’s touchdown, Kilgore and Davis teamed up to seal their side of the Green Bay defensive line, springing the 49ers rushing king down the right sideline. Kilgore was also the first man to greet Gore in the end zone and celebrate the score.

“It’s always fun to get on the field,” Kilgore said. “When you’re in that wing position on the seven-man offensive line package, it’s fun to get in there. Especially when Frank scores.”

The offensive line, which returns four of five starters from last year, displayed great chemistry throughout the game and paved the way for 186 rushing yards. Boone is the lone newcomer to the first-string unit after serving as the team’s backup tackle last season.

For Boone’s first NFL start, the TV broadcast crew rarely – if ever – mentioned his name during the game.

“As an offensive lineman, you never want your name called,” Boone said. “So I’m OK with that.”

Up until the 2012 season, Boone spent his football life on the edge of the offensive line at tackle. But he’s enjoying his new spot sandwiched between center Jonathan Goodwin and tackle Anthony Davis on the right side of the line, saying he and his teammates are “thick as thieves.”

Working with his fellow 49ers and offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Tim Drevno has made Boone’s transition to guard much better than expected.

“Way smoother than I thought,” Boone said. “Enjoying it, loving it, having a blast. Couldn’t ask for much more.”

The first thing you’ll notice about Boone is that he doesn’t possess the prototypical size of an interior lineman. At 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, the third-year player has to be among the tallest starting guards in the NFL, making proper pad level and leverage his top priority.

“It’s one of those things I worked on all camp and every day I work on it,” Boone said. “It’s starting to become a routine for me to stay lower and lower. I make sure my coaches yell at me every day to continue to stay lower because the more I hear them angry about it, the more I need to fix it. I really just have them yell at me all day.”

The 49ers were able to weather Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and the Green Bay defensive front, but things don’t get much easier in Week 2. For its home opener on Sunday Night Football, San Francisco will host the Detroit Lions and their powerful defensive front.

Players like Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch help create one of the most formidable and physical defensive lines the 49ers will face all season.

“Our preparation and the time that we put into the classroom is going to be big like it is every week,” Kilgore said. “They’ve got a great defense and we’ve got a great offensive line.”

Game Pass: San Francisco 49ers