Alex Boone and Anthony Davis: Of chickens and eggs

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

The 49ers OL is playing great football, particularly the right side has improved drastically. Does Alex Boone make Anthony Davis better, or is Davis just playing better?

Pro Football Focus released their offensive line rankings this week. You might not be surprised to see the 49ers on the top of that list. Every player along the OL has a positive grade, which as you know means they're playing well.

The biggest surprise may be the right side of the offensive line, a place where runs often went to die and pass rushers penetrated like a bullet through toilet-paper. We will long remember the days of Chilo Rachal and eventually Adam Snyder (who wasn't much/any better). But Anthony Davis was also a part of the much-maligned right side, often drawing penalties and being part of the chaos.

This season things are different for Davis, who's playing his best football yet. He's actually given up fewer sacks and has less penalties than Joe Staley, according to PFF.

But why is Davis so much better this year? Did he simply put in the work and now he's playing better as a result of experience and practice? Or is it that he now has a much better player to his left, in right guard Alex Boone?

That seems like a reasonable assumption, no? We all saw a lot of issues in 2011 with stunts, delayed blitzes, heck, blitzes in general, from the right side of the line. It seemed like Rachal/Snyder and Davis didn't know who was blocking who, at times.

So is Boone the big difference in Davis' progression this year, or is it more on Davis...or a little of both? Are the two players greater as a team than the sum of their parts individually? In fact, one could ask if Boone is succeeding at RG largely in part due to Davis being next to him.

While PFF has Davis rated as the lowest offensive lineman of the starting five, he does have a positive grade of 5.8. Boone has a grade of 16.3, second only to Joe Staley's 16.9. Both Boone and Davis grade out much better in pass protection than Staley, though...so maybe they are a good team?

What's your take?

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