Pick up a copy of the 49ers Gameday magazine at Candlestick Park when the 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings on "Sunday Night Football." The following interview is featured in this week's Gameday magazine.
Started from the bottom, now he's here. Undrafted in 2010, Alex Boone was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate three years later for the San Francisco 49ers. The 6-foot-8, 300-pound right guard has worked hard, transforming his body to become a powerful force on one of the most respected offensive lines in the National Football League.
Boone's personality is one of a kind. The same can be said about his performance on the field. The former tackle took on the challenge of lining up at guard to give the 49ers its best combination of starting offensive linemen in 2012. As a result, San Francisco's running game continued to thrive, finishing last year with the league's No. 4 rushing attack.
Boone and the four other members of the offensive line have formed a tight brotherhood. They've also built a level of accountability, pushing each other to set a standard of rough, tough play on a weekly basis. Boone is a character off the field. On it, he's all business and all about winning football games.
This duality of Boone's personality comes into focus in the latest Gameday cover story Q&A.
After every day of training camp, you and the offensive linemen are always in the cold tub. Tell me about the importance of the "Cold Tub Club" – and how does one become a member?
You have to be invited. You don't just get to come into the cold tubs. We have our JAMBOX group. We listen to Skid Row on Pandora and we rock out our faces. You have to get in the cold tub after practice. If you don't do that, you're going to be hurting for a while.
Who's giving you the most aches and pains in camp?
Are you saying that because his locker is right next to yours, or do you honestly mean that?
No, I say that because he's honestly a stud. And he's the most underrated defensive linemen in the league. If you can stop Ray's bull-rush, you can stop anybody's bull-rush.
It seems like there are examples of that happening across the team. There are always matchups where players are getting better because of the Pro Bowl-caliber opposition they face every day in practice, right?
Yeah. It's the best defensive line in the NFL. Those matchups make you better.
How do you view the importance of the third preseason game?
Communication is big. Communicating with everyone is important. You have to get your mind right. You go through a lot of situations in a half of football. You're going to be tested mentally and physically. It's good to get your wind and see how the first half of a game is really going to be. You can judge where you are and then after that, it's really off to the season. So, it's a good test for the offensive line and the unit.
You're in your second year as a guard after playing tackle at Ohio State and your first two seasons here with the 49ers – do you ever look back amazed at the transition you've been able to make?Every day. I mean, who really thought I was going to be a guard. You just have to roll with the punches and take advantage of the opportunities given to you in this league.
This offseason you had a black rhinoceros named after you at the San Francisco Zoo – do you still keep in touch with "Boone," the Rhino? **
He sends me mail every once in a while. I send him some stuff, too. He's doing great. He eats a lot. I think they were talking about putting him on a diet. He's been sleeping a lot, too. He's my dude.
How much did that gesture mean to you – being recognized by the city and the community? Did that really highlight how far you've come in your career?
It was a big honor. To have such a beautiful, massive, creature named after you, it's an honor. That's something I take with a lot of pride. There's a lot of pride in being recognized like that and when that happens, you have to perform every week. It's something I look forward to.
What's the best part about blocking for Frank Gore?
What isn't there to love about blocking for Frank Gore? You give him a crease and it's off to the races with anybody. He's so determined. He's so focused all the time. He always wants the best out of you and the minute you don't give him the best, he's going to call you out. I think he keeps guys accountable which is important. When someone loses focused, he's the first person to call you out on it – and that's a true leader – that's a man. You want to have that and to have it in Frank, he's the one carrying the ball, and he's determining a lot of the success of the team. It's an honor to block for one of the greatest power running backs, trap running backs, in the history of the NFL. So, to be on the same team as him and to be able to say I blocked for him, is an honor.Who is someone on the team you didn't really know well before, but have enjoyed getting to know them better in camp?
All the new O-linemen. They're great. The new D-linemen, they're awesome. I think I've gotten to know everybody really well. With most guys, you've gotten to know where they're from. You get to know about their family's histories and stuff like that. You find out all the similarities you have in common. I think that's one great thing about camp – you really bond with everybody. It becomes more of a brotherhood than a business and that makes it fun. You're out there sweating, working hard and everyone's tired. Everyone has to bring each other up and it's fun that way.
Speaking of the new linemen, what's your favorite part of watching the young players in the preseason? **I like to watch them bury people and see what they do when they get up from that. I love to see them compete. I'm really just watching them play and see them show what they've learned. I think a lot of the coaches are doing the same – they want to see what these guys know in a high-pressure situation. It's fun to watch because you're in there talking to them in meetings, "Be aware of this…" And when they see it, and they do what you told them to do and they've crushed somebody, it's awesome. On the flipside, you see a guy get beat – you want to see what he does next. You want to see what that guy is going to do when everything is down. The quarterback has been hit – what's he going to do? You want to see how he's going to react. That's an important thing for an offensive lineman.
What are your goals for 2013?I don't really have that many personal goals. I think it's more for the offensive line. We want to be the best offensive line in the NFL. To have the season we had last year, get a lot of recognition, there's a target on your back now. We're excited about that. It's something as an offensive lineman, you take with a lot of pride. Every week you have to get better and we want to be the best five out there at all times. To do that, you have to be tough. That's what we're working on right now.
How is your son, whom you call, "Johnny Bananas," doing these days?Gosh, he's growing like a weed. He's starting to talk, starting to say words that daddy says. I swear he's the most handsome kid I've ever seen in my life. He's the man… He's talking, he's walking, he's hitting on girls. He makes his dad proud.