Alex Boone already hangs on Leonard Davis' every word. After all, Davis also is a tall, long-armed lineman who transitioned from offensive tackle to guard. And he's been in the league 11 years and has played against just about every defensive tackle and nose guard Boone will face this season.
This week, however, Boone is paying extra attention. His main opponent will be Ndamukong Suh, someone Davis faced daily last year when he was a member of the Detroit Lions.
"I ask him things like, 'What would you do against a guy like so and so?'" Boone said. "He's played against a lot of those guys, and I listen to what he thinks of them. I hold his perspective very highly."
Davis today said that Suh, the most prominent member of the Detroit defense, certainly deserves the accolades he receives. "He's an exceptional athlete, and you've got to bring your A game when you're playing against a guy like that," Davis said. But he also warned that the rest of the defensive line, including Suh's fellow defensive tackle Corey Williams and ends Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, probably don't get enough attention.
"They've got some good players, and they play from the snap to the end of the whistle," Davis said. "If you're not ready for that, you're going to be struggling all day."
Sunday's game promises to be a war of nasty attitudes, especially when it comes to the right side of the 49ers offensive line and the left side of the Detroit defensive line. Tackle Anthony Davis and Avril jawed at each other throughout last year's meeting, then continued feuding on Twitter hours after the game had ended. Suh, meanwhile, was overwhelmingly voted the league's dirtiest player last year in player poll conducted by The Sporting News.
Boone this year has joined Anthony Davis in adding an element of feistiness to the offensive line. His attitude figured into the good grades he got from coaches after his first ever regular season start Sunday in Green Bay.
"We were all thrilled to see the instinctive things he did," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "He played physical, he played to his personality, which is aggressive, passionate, old-school nasty. And he had a lot of fun out there. Boone loves playing football. He's a beauty."
Boone's self-assessment wasn't as effusive. He said his leverage began to lapse as the game went on, and he recalled being showed backward on a bull rush by defensive tackle Ryan Pickett. But he also conceded it was a good first step.
"To play against B.J. Raji and Pickett and guys that are known around the league -- it was an experience, it was a lot of fun," Boone said. "And to play well against them was what I needed."
-- Matt Barrows