Huzzah! We got the worst position on the San Francisco 49ers out of the way when I ranked the cornerback position within the NFC West. Some disagreed with the ranking and of course, nothing I say is infallible and I can totally see placing them as high as No. 3, above the Arizona Cardinals, but definitely below both the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
We're going to continue jumping around from either side of the ball today, with a look at which team has the best offensive line. Although, I think most of you know the answer to this one ...
Joe Staley has finally developed into a consistent top-level left tackle, Mike Iupati is a punishing blocker, Jonathan Goodwin is the weakest part of the line, but is still an above-average starter, Alex Boone is way too big to be a successful guard, but he does it anyway because that's how he rolls, and Anthony Davis at his best is a sight to see.
Of course, each of these players have their weaknesses. I've always felt that Staley lacked the maturity to be that left tackle but obviously, that's not something I can really use as a knock against him after his performance last season. Still, he does tend to get muscled around a good bit. Iupati has his issues in the pass-blocking game from time to time, while Goodwin is simply serviceable everywhere, and great at nothing in particular.
Boone isn't great in space and Davis has tendency to get himself in a rut when he gets beat early. There's flaws there, but as I already wrote before, the 49ers invested heavily in this line and it's paid off, as it is, without a doubt, the best offensive line in the NFL.
The Seahawks are building a strong offensive line, to be sure. Russell Okung got out of the gate to a rough start, and many feared he was a wasted pick due to the multiple injuries, but he's firmly placed himself as an above average left tackle. He's not on the level of Staley, but the Seahawks need not worry about the position for now.
James Carpenter also has some health concerns, but he has a very high ceiling and could be great some day soon. Max Unger is probably the best center in football and the clear winner against his San Francisco counter-part in Goodwin. On the right side, Breno Giacomini doesn't inspire much confidence at all, and Davis is clearly better. Seattle needs to address that right side going forward, but the left and middle are set for the future.
Seattle's line is good, but it's not near the same level as San Francisco's, who wins out on four of the five positions definitively.
Roger Saffold has been underwhelming thus far and isn't nearly as good as advertised. That said, the right side suits him and he still has plenty of room for growth. None of Dahl, Wells or Smith inspire a whole lot of confidence, but they're not bad players by any means. They're just average.
Jake Long is the interesting addition. I firmly believe Long has plenty of potential to bounce back and be a top-flight left tackle in the NFL and if that turns out to be true, then the Rams got an absolute steal this offseason. Long is among the best when he's at his best, but if he isn't ... the Rams could be in trouble.
The Arizona Cardinals have a ... terrible offense line. Just awful, and easily the worst in the NFL. All they've done to attempt to improve upon that is bring in Jonathan Cooper who, admittedly, will probably be a very good guard in the NFL. He has the potential to be the best guard in the division.
But given that the Cardinals went ahead and landed Carson Palmer at quarterback, the complete (brace for a technical term here) suckage of the rest of the unit becomes even more evident. Levi Brown won't hold down the left side, leading to early abuse for the rookie Cooper, and the center and right side of the line is a who's who of "who?"
Let's just say if I were the kind of person to bet on things like this, if the over/under of games it takes for Palmer to be injured was set at "4", I'd take the under. Maybe I'm being too mean here. Or maybe the Cardinals' offensive line is just that bad. What do you think?