Over the course of two preseason games, San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks have logged 75 combined pass attempts. The offensive line is yet to allow a single sack during that span. Not one.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, yes, these games don't count, and everything seen must be taken with a grain of salt. Defenses are relatively vanilla this time of year, and often times, teams are using these opportunities to evaluate reserves opposed to starting talent. Still, in its early sample size, the 49ers revamped o-line could be a decent barometer of the potential of San Francisco's starting five.
This offseason, the 49ers sought after talent to upgrade the protection of their investment in Jimmy Garoppolo. Last season, San Francisco allowed 43 sacks, tied for the seventh-most in the NFL.
The 49ers signed former New York Giants center Weston Richburg, who allowed just four sacks in his four NFL seasons. Mike McGlinchey was selected at No. 9 overall in the draft to be the 49ers right tackle opposite 12-year veteran left tackle Joe Staley. San Francisco also acquired guards Jonathan Cooper and Mike Person this offseason and signed Laken Tomlinson to a three-year contract extension. Things are still gelling up front, but the early returns have been positive.
"They've been doing great," Garoppolo said "We've been mixing and matching a little bit. I think all of the units play well together. I've barely gotten touched so far. It's been nice."
One of the remaining question marks ahead of September lies with the 49ers competition at right guard. San Francisco's former first-round pick Joshua Garnett returned to the fold after missing the entire 2017 season with a knee injury. He saw one series with the first-team offense against the Houston Texans. Cooper also made his preseason debut in Houston. Person is very much in the mix as well.
Prior to the preseason, Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus said the 49ers had the 16th-best offensive line in the league, compared to 20th last season. Renner added the 49ers have "the best potential to outplay their current ranking."
Midway through the preseason, the overhauled offensive line and its reserves have managed to keep their quarterbacks relatively unscathed. Their next test comes against the Indianapolis Colts its new 4-3 base defensive scheme. The Colts defense has racked up seven sacks and is allowing just 117.5 passing yards per game so far during the preseason. We're likely to see the 49ers starting offensive line play the entire first half in Indianapolis.
"That's the cool thing about having two games left in the preseason – we get to go out and work on those things," Richburg said. "We take pride in (sacks) and we want to make that a consistent theme with our pass protection. We've just got to keep doing it. If we can keep it that way and really keep those guys upright, that allows them to make plays."