Why Was Alex Boone Playing Left Guard at 49ers Minicamp?

Nothing is set in stone, but it appears as though Erik Pears will be given the first chance to earn the starting right tackle job for the San Francisco 49ers.

So what does that mean for Alex Boone?

The team's starting right guard of the past three seasons was considered by some in the media to be a viable candidate to replace recently-retired right tackle Anthony Davis. The Boone-to-tackle conversation, however, was quieted down at the team's recent veteran minicamp. Boone did switch positions, but only from right guard to left guard.

So why was the veteran interior lineman playing on the opposite side of the line?

Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst offered the coaching staff's reasoning for the move.

"(If) you lose a guy of the caliber of Joe Staley, what's your answer?" Chryst asked a group of reporters. "By getting Alex repped on the left side, it's more natural to move him from left guard to left tackle than, hey, he's a right guard, right tackle and you flip him over to the left side."

Boone has plenty of experience on the left side of the field. In college, the 6-foot-8, 300-pound lineman made 22 of his 35 starts at Ohio State as a left tackle. In the NFL, however, Boone has primarily played as a guard except for a 2013 regular-season matchup in which he stepped in for an injured Staley and held St. Louis Rams star pass-rusher Robert Quinn to zero sacks in a home victory.

Boone's whereabouts on the offensive line will be an intriguing storyline when training camp begins in less than two months. The veteran lineman gives the 49ers coaching staff options in that he seemingly has the ability to play four spots..

"I think it's a great opportunity for us, at this time, to put him on the left side and see how natural he feels," Chryst said. "And I think he's been doing a really nice job over there."

Jim Tomsula explained the Boone scenario as one that would give San Francisco added line depth.

"The stance (at left guard) is the same if you did left tackle," the head coach explained. "That's what we're looking at, and he's comfortable there. ... And again, I don't want anybody to hold us in stone that that's where he's staying."

Boone's offensive line coach said the veteran's willingness to move to a new position, while learning the offense, bodes well for the team's younger offensive linemen who can see an established professional take to the staff's coaching.

"We have a good group of guys who are really working hard and they do everything we ask them to do every single day," respected line coach Chris Foerster said. "I'm happy Alex made it in. It was good to get him acclimated to what we're doing."

Foerster added that the Boone-to-left-guard move was a matter of "putting the pieces together" on the offensive front.

"And bringing in Erik Pears," Foerster added, "it made sense to move Alex to the left side."

Prior to the three-day camp, Boone wouldn't say if he expected to line up as a tackle in 2015.

Boone only made this clear:

"I think there's going to be an opportunity for me to play football. After that, it's up to the coaches. I'll leave that decision with them. I'm just here to play football and have fun. I don't really worry too much."

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