The 49ers have two starting offensive tackles who are in two entirely different places – literally and figuratively – right now. Joe Staley is on top of the world. Last month, coach Mike Nolan called him into his office and told Staley that he was the team’s new left tackle. Staley’s been working on his footwork for the new position and says he’s already at his target weight – 320 pounds – for the 2008 season. “I just want to lean up,” he said recently. “I just want to cut this fat out.” Staley recently bought a home in Campbell and will be playing next to buddy, Adam Snyder, who has been penciled in as the starting left guard. Staley said it’s easier to play next to someone you’re friends with and that all of the offensive linemen hang out together off the field.
All, that is, except for Jonas Jennings. While the rest of the team has been taking part in the 49ers’ conditioning program in Santa Clara, Jennings has been home in Georgia tending to his ailing mother. Jennings is very close to his mom and he was obviously affected when friend and teammate Frank Gore lost his mother last season. Jennings was one of the players who accompanied Gore to Liz Gore’s funeral in September. Jennings is a fiercely private person and has chosen not to share his family issues. We do know, however, that his mother’s health was one of the reasons Jennings briefly left the team in October. Actually, the Jennings family suffered a double whammy – his niece was involved in a car accident around the same time.
It’s not known when Jennings will return to Santa Clara, although he is expected to take part in the team's May 2 minicamp. Even when he returns, the 49ers will be perilously thin at the tackle position. While Staley has been practicing his footwork at left tackle, Damane Duckett has been the team’s de facto right tackle. The 49ers are very high on Duckett’s potential, but the former defensive tackle needs plenty more seasoning before he can be counted on at the position. That’s why the 49ers are expected to select an offensive tackle early in the draft later this month.
-- Matt Barrows