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October 16, 2012
Right tackle only? Boone ready to prove "scribes and pundits" wrong

booner.jpg

Right tackle only. That was the short story on Alex Boone (T, Ohio State) when he was coming out in the draft in 2009. The long analysis, according to one draft publication that year, went like this:

"Big, stiff, lumbering, long-armed mauler who can lock up defenders when he gets his hands on them. Is late to reach the second level. Struggles with speed. Does a good job of keeping extension. Plays too tall. Needs to play with better knee bend, flatten his back and come off with more power. Can be late to react to the blitz. Needs to do a better job of finishing blocks. Tends to get lazy the longer he plays. Has a throwback, tough-guy mentality. Thinks he's better than he is and comes off as arrogant. Would be more natural on the right side given his lack of foot quickness. Immature early in career; character needs to be evaluated."

With Joe Staley's (concussion) status in doubt, that big, stiff, lumbering mauler has a chance to prove those evaluators wrong this week.

"I think the scribes and pundits had it wrong about me," said Boone while borrowing a phrase from his head coach. "I don't think that I am a right tackle at all. ... I've been trying to tell people that for a long time. Nobody believes me. So they say, 'Hey, (he) can't play tackle, move him into guard.'"

The Giants and Cardinals probably believe him. Boone was an emergency fill in at left tackle last year in Arizona when Staley went down with a concussion. And he played a little more than a quarter at the position Sunday when the game was out of hand and the Giants defensive linemen could rush the quarterback with reckless abandon.

"There was a point in that game where I think everybody in the stadium knew there was a pass coming, which is always tough," center Jonathan Goodwin said. "But our job is to get them blocked regardless."

Boone did just that, matching up one-on-one with Osi Umenyiora and shutting him out. Umenyiora didn't have a sack or a hit in the last 20 drop backs by the San Francisco quarterbacks.

"It's like riding a bike," Boone said. "First play, I think anybody would have been shaky to see Osi Umenyiora out there. I've got a lot of respect for him. I know a lot of the guys in the league do. But after I took my first kick step, I was like here comes home. I'm back home. I'm doing what I used to do. I love it. Felt great out there."

Boone's metamorphosis from troubled college player in 2009 to the man he is today is well documented. With it came a new dedication to his craft and a re-tooling of his body - more muscle, far less body fat - that has improved his quickness and therefore his ability to play on the left side. He also has been picking the brains of veteran left tackles - guys like Barry Sims - who have been in the 49ers locker room.

This week, he's got a daunting task. With Staley's status unknown right now, Boone has to prepare for two positions - and all of the considerable Seahawk opponents he might face - and do it in a short week.

Is there enough time to prepare?

"There'd better be," Boone said. "I'll make time. If I have to go home and watch film with my son, I'll do it. It is what it is -- it's a short week. I told my wife I'm not going to be around a lot this week, so don't expect me at home. I've got a lot to do."

*****************************************
Jim Harbaugh, as always, was mum about the possible combinations along the offensive line if Staley can't play. If that's the case, Boone would play left tackle and Leonard Davis likely would play right guard. If something were to happen to either Boone or right tackle Anthony Davis in the game, Leonard Davis likely would kick out to tackle and Daniel Kilgore would come in and play guard. Staley's absence also might mean that rookie Joe Looney is active for the first time this season.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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