"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
"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."
Looney is competing to replace Boone between right tackle
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."
"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."
MORE FROM 49ERS.COM: