One of our many discussion points heading into the past two preseason games has been the play of the offensive line in general, and Alex Boone's battle for a roster spot in particular. One useful way of assessing the battle to date would be looking at Matt Maiocco's always useful player-by-player recaps. He takes a look at every player and provides a rundown of playing time and a few quick thoughts on each player.
At this point, it would seem like Barry Sims and Alex Boone would be battling for a roster spot. Obviously both could make the roster at the expense of a third player, but given the swing-man type of role involved, they are a good comparison.
Boone: "Entered at beginning of second half at left tackle and played the rest of the way, 31 snaps. He was called for a holding penalty, but his feet looked much better than last summer. He did a very good job in the second half of handling defensive end Ervin Baldwin one-on-one."
Sims: "Did not play, coaches decision."
Boone: "Entered at beginning of second half at left tackle and played 12 snaps. Then, he moved to right tackle, where he played the final 23 snaps. Surrendered a sack on his first snap, as Brian Robison blew past him to drop Davis for an 11-yard loss. After that first play, he turned it around and held his own."
Sims: "Entered at left tackle in the fourth quarter and played 23 snaps. Did not allow any pressures."
Based strictly on playing time, Boone is obviously getting a bit more time overall, and in particular at the always important left tackle position (as well as some RT time). However, given that this is the preseason, and comparing Boone with Sims, I'd imagine the team has to believe they already know what Sims brings to the table. Boone is getting a lot more action this year now that he's gotten in shape and improved his mechanics.
The question at this point, at least in my mind, is whether Boone is making the necessary strides to potentially supplant Barry Sims? At this point, with Heitmann on the shelf with his broken leg, it's going to be tough to keep both Sims and Boone. I suppose you could factor Tony Wragge and Adam Snyder into this equation, but I suppose that will depend on how flexible the 49ers feel they can be with their offensive line depth. Snyder can play guard and tackle. Wragge can play guard and center. Boone and Sims can primarily play both tackle positions, but not guard or center.
Given Heitmann's injury, does the team feel it has to keep Wragge for now as a backup center? In that case, since Wragge can swing over to guard, does the team cut Snyder loose in order to keep both Sims and Boone? Choices, choices.