GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Jonathan Goodwin #59, Mike Iupati #77 and Alex Boone #75 of the San Francisco 49ers react on the bench during the final moments of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 21-19. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
With training camp underway and some actual, factual info coming from padded practices making it's way to our interwebz, I started thinking about position battles and depth charts...that's what football nerds do this time of year.
One of the most intriguing position groups to monitor this off-season will be the offensive line. The thing that makes it "complex", as the title of this post mentions, is that Alex Boone is in the running for the starting RG spot.
Boone, as most of us know, is quite the tackle already. He saw the most action of his career in 2011, subbing for Joe Staley when the latter was injured. Boone was nearly flawless in his performance, something that didn't come as a surprise to this guy.
That being said, I feel that Boone is still the best option at "swing tackle", the backup to either RT or LT should one of them go down with injury during a game. That makes the makeup of the game-day OL a bit more complicated.
After the jump we'll look at some scenarios.
Let's say that Boone starts at RG and the team also dresses Daniel Kilgore and Leonard Davis as the two backups. If Joe Staley or Anthony Davis are injured, Boone would slide to tackle and Davis would likely step-in at RG (presumably, if his camp keeps going "arrow-up" as Harbaugh would say).
Now that means Kilgore is available to back-up center should Jonathan Goodwin go down, or one of the guard positions if necessary. Worst-case, if Boone or the other tackle get hurt in this scenario, Leonard Davis would probably be forced to play some tackle...something he's done before.
If for some reason the 49ers dress a G/C player and then another tackle, this is what I would see playing out:
Tackle is injured, Boone slides outside, Kilgore (presumably) takes the RG spot. If there's an injury to a guard, Boone comes back inside and the backup tackle (let's pontificate that it's Mike Person) would take Boone's spot outside.
If the other tackle is injured, the backup tackle would play RT and Boone would play LT. Fairly straight-forward, nobody horribly out of position.
If the center is injured, Kilgore would have to slide in at C, Boone back to RG, and the backup tackle would take Boone's place outside. This is probably worst-case scenario, but again, everyone is in their position.
I suppose there is one even worse scenario: three offensive line injuries, including Goodwin and Kilgore. This would put the team without a center. Leonard Davis hasn't ever played C to my knowledge. Boone or Iupati would likely become the emergency C, unless Brian Jennings is that guy, albeit VERY undersized at 242lbs.
Basically we'd hope there was a hefty lead at this point, and pray.
So, as you can see things could be interesting on the offensive line. Of course, this could all change in a week when we hear that such-and-such is looking like the best backup tackle and then Boone can concentrate on RG alone. For now though, it's a complex carousel.