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49ers vs. Cardinals: Breaking Down Alex Boone

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GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11:  Michael Crabtree #15 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11: Michael Crabtree #15 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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I thought I'd go back and re-watch the game that broke my heart today, no, not so I could have it broken again (it actually wasn't as bad this time around, less beer and knowing the outcome)...but so that I could take a nice in-depth look at Alex Boone's first significant play in a regular season game.

Some have always been high on Boone's potential and apparently the 49ers were too, signing him to a contract extension just this past week. Still, having not seen Mr. Boone play anything close to an entire non-preseason game...I thought this was a great opportunity to break down how he held-up.

After seeing the game live, I figured the pressure must have been coming from everywhere, including the aforementioned left tackle. However when I went back and watched every play, keying-in on Boone, I found that he actually did quite well with his assignments.

Make the jump for a look at every snap in which Alex Boone participated.

1st Quarter

Makes a nice block at the second level on running play that only ends up going for one yard. Apparent miscommunication with Iupati or not on sack? Both double same guy, leaving outside rusher for Gore, who upends him. On next play he pushes Acho out of the play easily.

Gets out ahead and makes block on DB on 1st down running play. Misses cut-block on Campbell on next play. Campbell was close to making the stop on Gore, but didn't technically make the tackle.

On third-down he easily handles DB blitz. Peterson comes from outside of that pressure and sacks Smith, who should have thrown to Hunter sooner than he did.

Makes adequate block on his man as the running play goes to the other side on next possession. Easily handles the LB on the next play. Boone is so big and moves very well in space.

Iupati's man is responsible for hit on Alex on the long incomplete play to Ted Ginn (where he couldn't find the ball that ended-up landing 3 feet away from him). Not sure if Boone should have helped double that defender, but it looks like he had outside responsibility. Had no one to block outside on next play so moved inside to help on completion to Crabtree.

Side note: Spillman and Costanzo are absolute beastly-stud-beasts on special-teams.

2nd Quarter

Didn't have to block long on incompletion to Edwards in red-zone after Ginn's long return, but he did decent job anyways. Next play he blocks his man and moves towards the opposite side, where the run by Gore is stuffed, seemingly due to Adam Snyder's inability to keep his man tied up.

Tries to help Vernon Davis on next passing play but Davis tries to cut pass-rusher, so Boone can't get his hands on him until after he jumps over Davis. Play seems like it was supposed to be quick pass as most of the OL's only block their men for a few seconds. Pass falls incomplete to Gore on right sideline.

Side note: I'm not sure how Aldon Smith didn't sustain a concussion after being plowed-into by Goldson, hit in the head by Goldson's shoulder-pads.

Easily handles Campbell on first down screen pass to Hunter that gains 10 yards. On next play, a sack on Smith, Boone handles his man again and isn't responsible. Keeps his man out of Smith's wheelhouse on next play as well, a completion to Kyle Williams over the middle.

Helps Iupati on next play, a completion to Crabtree for a first-down. Good adjustment as his man decided not to rush. Blocks inside on designed trap play where Miller and/or Snyder miss the defensive end, who stops Gore for a loss.

Helps Iupati again on double-team, pass completed to Kyle Williams just shy of the first-down by a few yards. This is the play Whisenhunt challenges (seemingly after the next snap), negating the beautiful fake FG play for a TD.

Side note: Goldson in bad position on the ensuing play after missed FG. Need to be sure you make tackle when you're last-line of defense.

Next possession Boone cuts his guy on Delanie Walker quick pass to the left, but when Walker comes back across the field unexpectedly, Boone's man get's up and makes the stop. Can't really put that on him. Get's out in front on next Gore run left but while he shoves the LB, he doesn't engage and stay with him, and his man makes the play after a gain of four yards.

Easily handles his man (and eventually gets help from Vernon Davis) on next play, a completion to Kyle Williams for a first down. Next play he again easily gets in position and makes initial block on his man, but doesn't stick with him long enough and he comes free to help make the tackle after a five yard gain.

Side note: Kyle Williams looks like a starting WR to me. He's incredibly quick, snatches the ball out of the air, runs after the catch, blocks...what more does the guy need to prove? He and Crabtree were putting on a clinic in the first-half when the ball came their way.

Again Boone easily handles the pass-rusher with his long arms and quick feet. Vernon Davis takes it all the way to the 13 yard line. Next play is an end-around by Williams and Boone get's downfield to throw a block that would have sprung Williams for the TD had Richard Marshall not come in and stopped him first.

Boone gets out in front for a WR screen pass to the left on the next play but the pass is batted down. They go unbalanced line on the next play which is a weak-side bootleg run by Alex Smith...which goes nowhere. Boone didn't contribute to the failed play.

Side note: Watching small RB's getting tackled by Justin Smith is like watching an enormous bag of feed fall on a munchkin. It's just comical.

Boone is man-handled a bit on the next possession, getting knocked back and then not able to recover. He wasn't the only one and as a result Alex was flushed out right where he threw to the Gatorade cooler. Didn't have to do much on the next play, a completion to Bruce Miller to the other side. Crabtree probably chooses the wrong guy to block and the play goes for only 5 yards.

Handles his man again on a completion to Ginn on the left sideline to get the 49ers inside the 10 yard line, where they would flail, choke, and puke. Does his job again on next play, a perfectly thrown pass to Ginn in the right corner of the end-zone, which is predictably dropped by Ginn.

Does his job again on the next play, as Alex runs around in the pocket, then left, then throws to the back of the end zone where Ginn was not present. Another FG ensues.

3rd Quarter

The 49ers still seem in control at this point, despite the offensive inefficiency in the red-zone. Aldon Smith has a nice sack (note: you can't keep your hands on this man. He will destroy them) and the offense get's great field-position.

The first play of that next possession sees Boone chip his man at the line then release to the second-level to help spring Gore for his 37 yard TD. Crabtree blasts a DB and Gore makes a nifty hurdle of an attempted tackle along the way. The 49ers seem like they're ready to open up a lead.

Side note: Dashon, in a jump-ball situation with Larry Fitzgerald, you'll usually lose. Go for the dislogding hit, next time.

Back to series he has a good block on a Gore run, but the rest of the defense closed-in on Frank for a short gain. Next play Boone does a nice job identifying who to block and helps Iupati with his man, the only man, again. Alex hits Braylon in the back on the play, obviously a bad idea. The next play is an incompletion where Boone's man starts to get inside of him, but he recovers and shoves him just past Alex as he throws.

Boone was having no problem with his man again on the next series, but Alex made a late throw, which was a bad decision and nearly and INT on a pass intended for Crabtree. The next running play sees Boone pulling to the inside, but he has a hard time finding someone to block and the play is stopped for little gain. He easily deals with his man on the next play, a complete pass just shy of the first down.

Side note: Skelton was incredibly slippery in the pocket. Aldon almost had his second sack in the third quarter (the play that Brown intercepted) but as he'd done a bunch of times already, Skelton avoided Smith's grasp.

After the personal foul penalty on the hit to the head of Delanie Walker, Boone tries to get out in front of a Kendall Hunter run up the middle but again doesn't find anyone to block. Boone handled his man on the next pass play, a deep incomplete pass to Crabtree up the right sideline, and again helps Iupati double-team a man on the third-down play that follows.

4th Quarter

The quarter starts with a comedy of errors on the long pass play to Larry Fitzgerald as Rogers goes for the break-up, Goldson goes for the hit-stick, and nobody actually tackles Fitzgerald until trusty Donte Whitner drags him down by the ankles inside the red-zone.

Boone makes a nice block on the first play, a run right which gains two yards. On the next play he drives his man out of the picture by a good five yards as Hunter rushes for six. Unbalanced line next as Boone rides his man outside but pretty close to Smith as he releases the pass, overthrown by a mile to Vernon Davis.

Side note: Goldson is really going for the big hit a lot in this game. I know we don't like the Cardinals, but it's costing us a lot of yards after contact, even on running plays.

Boone is having no trouble with whomever is coming from the left side (usually Campbell). Cambell even tries to counter move inside, swimming his hands all over like a flailing multi-armed creature...but Boone just keeps shoving him around. No trouble on third down incompletion for Boone, either.

Easy-peasy on the next series' starting play, a short completion along the right sideline for Crabtree. On the next play, however, Boone isn't able to keep his man quite wide enough, but it doesn't matter as Vernon Davis false-starts.

He handles his man on the next play which was a completion just shy of the first-down to Crabtree. He handles Acho again on the next play but Campbell (blocked by Iupati) gets a bat-down on Alex' pass. On fourth down Alex perceives pressure from the left side that isn't there and scrambles all over the place, throwing an incompletion to Kendall Hunter (who probably could have made the grab).


All-in-all Boone had a solid day and didn't allow many pressures whatsoever. His run blocking was mostly good other than a few times he wasn't able to locate someone to block in space. I'm encouraged by his play, especially since Joe Staley likely has a concussion. Plus it's always nice to know your backup tackle can play on the left side and handle his responsibility even when the team is passing a ton.