49ers roster turnover: Has the interior of the offensive line improved?

Christian Petersen

The 49ers have had fairly limited turnover on the interior of their offensive line. Is the line better with the changes?

The 49ers rookies report to training camp in just under two weeks, with the veterans following five days later. We're continuing through our 90-in-90 posts, but one way we can further assess the roster is looking at the turnover from last year to this year. I thought that over the next two weeks, I'd go through the various positions and look at the roster now, the roster at the Super Bowl and the roster at the start of the season.

We'll start with the interior of the offensive line, looking at the guards and the center position. It makes some sense to break up the line as tackles and interior linemen given that the 49ers backups get work at center and guard. Here is a look at how the roster has changed since last preseason, with the projected training camp depth chart courtesy of Matt Barrows:

Preseason 2012 depth chart

LG: Mike Iupati, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney, Garrett Chisholm
C: Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore, Chase Beeler, Jason Slowey
RG: Alex Boone, Leonard Davis, Mike Person, Al Netter

Week 1 depth chart

LG: Mike Iupati, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney
C: Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore
RG: Alex Boone, Leonard Davis

Super Bowl depth chart

LG: Mike Iupati, Joe Looney
C: Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore
RG: Alex Boone, Leonard Davis

Current depth chart

LG: Mike Iupati, Adam Snyder, Wayne Tribue
C: Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore, Sherman Carter
RG: Alex Boone, Joe Looney, Al Netter

Tribue and Carter would both seem likely to be looking at practice squad spots at best. Kilgore and Looney aren't going anywhere, and I could see this turning into a Netter vs. Snyder battle. Snyder can play all five positions on the line and has some veteran experience, which gives him an advantage. He may be no more than a serviceable replacement, but versatility adds tremendous value.

In assessing the roster turnover, I think we could point to some positives AND some negatives. On the one hand, for strictly guard play, I kind of would almost prefer Leonard Davis over Adam Snyder. I don't think either is a spectacular guard, but Davis at his best was better than Snyder at his best. In that regard, you could argue the unit is a little worse.

Of course, on the other hand, you've got Daniel Kilgore with a second year under his belt, and Joe Looney spent all last season learning. Kilgore had worked his way into the extended rotation last year, and got first team center snaps during the offseason workout program when Jonathan Goodwin was out of town. I would like to hope he has continued to improve.

As for Looney, he had a year to get healthy, and hopefully can force his way into the second interior line depth role behind Kilgore. We won't know until we see him on the field, but if he has also improved, then I would argue the interior of the line is in better shape than last year. There is a chance Goodwin regresses, but enough for the line to take a step backward? And with two young guards on each side, the starting unit seems to be in plenty good shape.

I've included a poll, so vote there, and I'll accumulate them when we wrap this up.

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