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Jim Harbaugh: 'We Can Win with Joe Looney'

Posted Aug 19, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers coach and his quarterback both expressed confidence in Alex Boone's potential replacement along the offensive line.

When Joe Looney first came to the San Francisco 49ers as a 2012 fourth-round NFL Draft pick, his new offensive coordinator shot him straight.

"Coach (Greg) Roman told, 'To get better at football, you have to play it,'" Looney recalled.

Now the offensive lineman is getting that chance. 

Throughout training camp and two games into the preseason, Looney has started at right guard in place of Alex Boone, who has been absent from the team.

"We believe in Joe Looney; we believe we can win with Joe Looney," Jim Harbaugh said on Tuesday. "He is working everyday to improve his game, and that's what the unit is doing."

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick sided with his coach: "He’s someone we have confidence in. The more time he’s on the field, the more confidence we have."

Looney is competing to replace Boone between right tackle Anthony Davis, who returned to practice on Tuesday, and center Daniel Kilgore. Still manning the left side are guard Mike Iupati and tackle Joe Staley.

Observers are accustomed to the Pro Bowl-level play of Boone. Of course, Looney has been with the team in a reserve role, so he is aware of the expectations.

"His technique, his physicality," Looney said when asked about his teammate's defining qualities. "Boone is a great guy and a great player. I want to do great just the way he did."

Given Roman's comment and offensive line coach Mike Solari's instruction, Looney has been preparing for this dramatic increase in playing time.

"I give credit to coach Solari. He is always preparing us young guys like we're playing in the game," Looney said. "I just want to show everyday that I can compete at a high level, wherever the team needs me."

Looney has two more games – at home on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers and on Aug. 29 in Houston versus the Texans – to cement a potential starting role at right guard.

"I thought I played better in the (second preseason) game, had better pad-level," said Looney, who hasn't spoken with Boone recently. "Whoever is out there, coaches will expect us to play championship-level football."

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