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49ers-Vikings: Offensive Line, Defensive Line Player Reviews

Some of the more interesting battles going on for roster spots are on the offensive and defensive lines. As a fan this is nice because I can always see what everyone on the line is doing; definitely not something that's possible when trying to judge linebackers, safeties, CBs, WRs, etc. Since line play is one of my passions this is a great opportunity to do some review of the players. Over the last two days I went and re-watched the game against Minnesota, focusing on each player so I could do a player-by-player review. Some names that stood out are already being talked about, but there are a couple that I think will surprise people.

Join me after the jump for my review...

Offensive Line

Joe Staley--Staley played for the first half and was a rock. Maybe once or twice did he allow any kind of pressure on Alex Smith. No penalties and good in the run game too. Solid all the way around and gets an A.

Mike Iupati--He was very impressive this week. No penalties, didn't allow any pressure at all and had monster holes, always ending up in the secondary. What impressed me most were not those traits (though they're very nice to see), but his awareness. He did an excellent job helping out his center and tackle when they needed. A couple of times he actually shifted his block from double-teaming with Baas to go help Staley and vice versa. A+

David Baas--Solid but not spectacular. Allowed some pressure (On the end around to Delanie Walker in the first drive Baas was responsible for the player who made the first hit on Walker). Another time he double-teamed a player with Rachal and a LB came through on a delayed blitz and Baas didn't move over to pick him up. B

Chilo Rachal--Much the same as Baas. Solid, but not spectacular. Generally pretty good in pass protection. He had one play where he was double-teaming someone with Baas and saw a blitzer coming through and slid over to pick the blitzer up. Struggled a bit in the run game but overall did good. B

Anthony Davis--Improved from last week, but still struggled. He's very susceptible to the pass rusher on the outside which is why he's getting called for false starts. He got beat a couple of times and had a bunch of pressures that he allowed. I think he did a good job in run blocking though. My concern is that when he figures out his kick slide he'll get beat on a double-move. C

Barry Sims--Didn't play much at all, but was solid when he did play. No mistakes but no big plays either. B

Adam Snyder--He performed better as a guard than he did as a tackle last year but that's not saying much. Gave up a great deal of pressure though he does have a couple of good blocks in the run game. D

Alex Boone--Boone played some at both RT and LT though he fared better at left tackle. He did allow a couple of big pressures early on but once he got his feet under him he performed well in both run and pass blocking. B+

Tony Wragge--Got a lot of action at center. Didn't muff any snaps but did a poor job calling assignments and an especially poor job on pass protection. Lots of pressure up the middle with him in the line. D

Brian de la Puente--He also saw some time at center and was unremarkable. D

Cody Wallace--Didn't see the field

Defensive Line

Justin Smith--The rest of America might not know what stud he is but opposing coaches do. He was double-teamed nearly every play that he was in. This is unfortunate for opposing offenses since that meant either McDonald or RJF (often both) had man-on-man coverage. Smith's motor never stopped, getting good pressure nearly every play. A+

Ricky Jean-Francois--He shined this game. It's hard for a NT to get much penetration since they're usually double-teamed. RJF managed this feat even though he was double-teamed almost every play once Smith was taken out of the game. The kid hustled all over the field making plays. A

Isaac Sopoaga--Soap showed more hustle this game than I can remember in a long time getting good pressure and penetration. Solid play all the way around. A

Ray McDonald--McDonald would come in on passing situations. Last year he played LDE on passing downs, this game he came in to replace RJF, which left us with two linemen and two OLBs. He had a solid game, making a couple of great plays, including an almost sack of Tavaris Jackson. B

Khalif Mitchell--Mitchell really surprised me. I knew he was playing well, but I didn't know how well. He was the main beneficiary of RJF getting double-teamed and was constantly getting pressure. The Vikings right tackle was no match for him as several times Mitchell had him on the ground. A

Derek Walker--Saw a fair amount of play at the RDE spot but was mostly unremarkable. He did notch a sack and 2 tackles so it wasn't a totally unproductive game for him. C+

Demetric Evans--Evans saw a little bit of play at the RDE spot but wasn't much of a factor, not recording any stats. F

Will Tukuafu--Like Evans he didn't see much playing time as he and Evans and Walker were splitting the RDE reps. He did get two tackles but otherwise had a quiet game. C

Unit Grades:

Offensive line: B-

Defensive line: A