For a 6-foot-7 offensive guard,
“I never thought I’d be a really be a good guard, at all,” Boone said on Thursday. “To be honest with you, I’m too tall and I’m not built like a guard. But once you adapt to the game and understand your position, it becomes a little bit easier.”
It also helps when Boone has two position coaches working with him daily at 49ers headquarters and a Pro Bowl lineman giving pointers from afar, making him a valuable part of the NFL’s No. 2 ranked rushing attack (162.1 yards per game).
When Boone was approached about potentially sliding inside to compete for a starting role prior to training camp, the 49ers lineman sought out his personal line coach, former Pro Bowl lineman LeCharles Bentley.
The two have been inseparable the last few offseasons, and Bentley still doesn’t leave Boone alone. Each week, scouting reports on opponents, tips on his technique and other insights are sent directly to Boone’s email account.
Text messages are also exchanged between the two, including one from Bentley as Boone returned to his locker following Thursday morning walk-throughs.
“He’s very hard on me,” said Boone on the former NFL veteran who operates his own offensive line academy in Ohio. “He’s a no-holds-barred type of guy. If he sees something he doesn’t like, he tells me.
“I think the reason I’ve been able to adapt to this position so well is because of him.”
Boone’s on-field performance continues to improve on a weekly basis.
It’s noticed by many, including offensive coordinator Greg Roman who said the young lineman’s performance last week in St. Louis might be his best to date.
“Alex, I thought had one of his best games, if not best game, last week,” Roman shared. “Technically, from an assignment standpoint, everything he did.”
In Roman’s mind, the biggest challenge for Boone was adapting to the multiple types of opponents and defensive schemes he would encounter on a weekly basis.
To Boone’s credit, each challenge has been met head-on with extreme fervor.
“He’s seeing a lot of different styles of defender, a lot of different styles of defense,” Roman noted. “Alex is the kind of guy we want, pushing to get better every week. He’s doing a great job.”
In particular, Boone’s improved as an open-field blocker. In last week’s game against the Rams, the 300-pound lineman did an excellent job of pulling to the perimeter, locating St. Louis defenders and moving them out of the way for
It also reminded Roman of something.
“When he gets out in space, he can get rolling, a bit like an 18-wheeler going down a hill,” the 49ers offensive coordinator detailed. “He did a great job last week on a couple of our perimeter plays.”
Boone, however, envisions it somewhat differently.
“I get a little nervous sometimes when I’m running out there, but it’s fun,” he admitted. “It’s fun to show off your athleticism. Sometimes when I pull out there I feel like I’m in ‘The Sandlot’ like ‘Benny the Jet’ going to get the ball. I just hear the crack of the whip and I go.”
Boone’s using that mindset in regards to preparing for a physical Miami Dolphins defensive front.
Although he used to prepare like a tackle, the improving interior lineman is looking though his guard lenses at this week’s opponent.
“They’re a very good team in the run, big stout, guys,” Boone said of the Dolphins. “I think it’ll be a good challenge for us, especially after last week… If we want to be the team we say we are, we’ve got to run the ball late in the year and be more physical than other teams.”
Fortunately for Boone, there will be several indicators of how he performed.
Besides the good old scoreboard and post-game stat sheets, Boone knows his inner circle will give him instant feedback.
He also knows that Sunday will be the latest chance for him to act like an 18-wheeler going downhill.
“Pretty much,” Boone said as if to agree with his coordinator’s description. “Put it into the six and just roll, man.”