49ers offensive line average age doesn't tell the whole story

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

The 49ers offensive line is one of the team's biggest strengths. It is fitting then that they rank in the middle of the pack in terms of average age.

Over at our Philadelphia Eagles blog, Jimmy Kempski put together an extensive look at NFL offensive lines and their average age when Week 1 gets here. The 49ers starting offensive line ranks No. 12 oldest among all 32 starting offensive lines, with an average age of 28 years, 29 days. Jimmy had comments on each team. Here is what he had to say about the 49ers:

For a team that is going to contend for a Super Bowl for a while, this is close to a perfect OL. Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis are continuing to get better, and Joe Staley is in his prime. Jonathan Goodwin is old, but centers age better than any other position along the OL. (The top 5 oldest projected OL starters are all centers).

The New York Jets are the oldest offensive line at 29 years, 7 months, 3 days, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are youngest at 24 years, 10 months, 27 days. In the NFC West, the Rams are third oldest, the Seahawks are No. 24 and the Cardinals are No. 29.

The 49ers OL average age is skewed by center Jonathan Goodwin. When Week 1 gets here he will be 34 years, 9 months, 7 days, and the next closest is Joe Staley, who will be 29 years, 10 days. Anthony Davis is the youngest at 23 years, 10 months, 29 days.

The good news about this is that centers generally age a bit more gracefully than the rest of the offensive line. Of course, we also know that the 49ers are planning for the post-Goodwin era. Daniel Kilgore has been developing behind Goodwin, to the point that he has gotten the first team snaps when Goodwin stayed home during chunks of the 49ers offseason workout program. Additionally, Joe Looney has been getting some practice time at center over the last year. There is a better than even chance the 49ers have a new center a year from now.

Another interesting tidbit is Alex Boone. The 49ers right guard is 26, putting him just ahead of Mike Iupati for third in terms of average age. Of course, last season was the first year Boone played starter snaps. He worked his way up from undrafted free agent to practice squad to reserve to starter. He has plenty to learn, but I would imagine he does not have the normal wear and tear of an offensive guard entering his fifth year in the NFL.

The 49ers offensive line is one of the biggest strengths on this team. Even as the line ages, the 49ers are making sound investments as they move forward. Jonathan Goodwin will likely be the first player replaced. After that, Joe Staley or Mike Iupati could be next up depending on contracts and younger player development. The 49ers have solid young talent developing, whether it be Daniel Kilgore and Joe Looney, or the potential of Luke Marquardt. Colin Kaepernick is arguably the most high profile player on the team, but the foundation of this team comes on the offensive line.

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