As it turns out, I am capable of having positive thoughts about the San Francisco 49ers offensive line. It's a rare thing for me these days, but after watching and re-watching the performance against the New Orleans Saints, a couple things stood out to me that I think are worth highlighting.
First, the negative ... because I am, after all, me. I'm still pretty worried about both guard spots, as Mike Iupati has played poorly enough to lose an awful lot of money once he hits the free agent market and Alex Boone is just getting beat in every aspect of the game. They were definitely the under-performers against the Saints, to say the least.
But it wasn't all bad, really. I thought Joe Staley looked less bad than he has in recent weeks and Anthony Davis had a decent game. But I want to focus on rookie center Marcus Martin. Of course, he's drawn some attention lately due to his strong play so me talking about it isn't exactly a revelation, but I like to think I'm harder to please than some others in this scenario, so I thought it might be worth talking about.
Against the St. Louis Rams, I thought Martin was a mess. He was constantly turning around with nobody to block, looking for where to go. He got beat bad by a few solid pass-rushing moves and generally looked like a rookie. But honestly, at this point, I think there's one definitive statement I can make about him: I'm least-worried about the center position when it comes to the 49ers' offensive line.
Iupati's struggles are worrying because it's now a trend after last year. Boone's struggles are worrying because he was so dominant a season ago. Staley's struggles are worrying because he's honestly supposed to be past that point in his career. Davis' struggles are less worrying because we've known his faults for awhile now and have worked with them.
Martin, however, is a rookie and fretting over whether or not a rookie will pan out is a fruitless endeavor. The 49ers drafted him where they did for a reason and everything we've seen from his college tape indicates he can be successful in the league. Now he has two NFL starts, one poor game and one very solid game. To me, there's very little to worry about there.
The fact that his success came in a dome against the Saints is also a big deal. It's a tough place to play, and it's pretty darn loud. The Saints just don't lose there, and offensive lines don't perform well there. But I thought Martin kept his cool, didn't have any bad snaps, blocked well and I didn't see him spinning around looking for someone to block.
Just a solid, solid game from the rookie.