Call me Stupid.
A game I like to play is the "look-back-at-our-silly-preconceived-notions-concerning-the-lockout." It's a fun game because for the most part a lot of us were pretty stupid. I was pretty stupid - maybe even the stupidest. King Stupid, if you will.
I was all about how the lockout would dampen this and hinder that and maybe it has. But, frankly, at 9-1 you kind of have to say that the supposed consequences of the lockout have not really shown up like we thought they would. I've always wanted to have premonition abilities since seeing Minority Report, and I thought that I had some this offseason - all with the added bonus of not having to ever be around Tom Cruise. I don't want to catch his crazy: it's communicable through speech.
One area that may be my saving grace, however, is the o-line. It's hard to look at the o-line that just gave up zero sacks against a defense that has Darnell Dockett on it (though I will whisper under my breath, "overrated"), and say that it is the same o-line we saw at the beginning of the season. Night and day, my friends. Night and day.
The fact of the matter is I really do think the lockout had a serious affect on the o-line this season. Protection packages are so complex that it really shouldn't be a surprise to see an o-line that has some serious talent on it struggle to stand strong against a slight breeze, let alone an oncoming player.
The beginning of the year was like telling John Wayne to win a shootout without any bullets. Could he do it? Of course: this is John Wayne, you dolt. Don't ever doubt him. But it would be darn hard. And he wouldn't get an Oscar.
So I don't find it surprising at all that this o-line has been able to pick up the slack in terms of pass protection as the season moves by. They were in a pretty rough situation to begin with, but they are young and talented and full of vim and vigor.
I'm more impressed with this line, though, when it comes to run blocking. I especially like to watch Anthony Davis in run situations. He has a tenacity that makes me want to, at least, get in a nasty pillow fight. I always find Davis shoving some puny linebacker around while Frank Gore runs on by. Davis finds a way into the secondary on like every run play. He doesn't even move; he apparates. I'm convinced of it, to be frank.
The unit as a whole, though, is mighty impressive. It's no coincidence, I think, that Frank is a having a bit of a renaissance this year. Moreover, the emergence of Kendall Hunter and the brief emergence of Anthony Dixon on Sunday both speak to the aggressive nature with which the o-line attacks an opposing defense.
I like where this line is going and I think that as the lockout sails off to Valinor we are going to see this line solidify even more. In fact, with the emergence of Alex Smith and the continued dominance of the run game, I might argue that the key to keeping up the improvement in the offense rests with the o-line.