It's no secret that one of the San Francisco 49ers key deficiencies is the right side of the offensive line. It took head coach Jim Tomsula four weeks of watching the horror film that is Marcus Martin, Jordan Devey, and Erik Pears before making a change.
Enter Andrew Tiller.
When Tiller was first activated, many fans thought Devey was on his way out. Instead what we saw was an even split: 34 snaps a piece. Because, you know, the best way to create consistency along the offensive line is to keep switching out the right guard drive after drive.
Think what you will about the strategy (hey, Bill Belichick is doing it so it MUST be the key to a potent offense!), it does provide a phenomenal environment to evaluate each player's performance.
Jordan Devey played the majority of the first quarter, opened up the third quarter, and came back in when there were 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Rotation wise, it seems the 49ers were intent on getting them an even split quarter by quarter.
The offense flowed mostly to where Devey was not: quick screens to Ellington, or runs behind left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Alex Boone. When Devey was in the mix, it looked like this:
Devey was utilized as the pulling guard more often than Tiller. I only saw Tiller pull once, and it was on a play fake where he quickly set up in pass protection. When he did pull, Devey did have success turning the defender.
When Tiller entered the game, perhaps a because he was playing in the second and fourth quarters, the 49ers put the ball in the air. In pass protection, Tiller displayed a great initial punch that neutralized Cullen Jenkins, a player that ranks 3rd of 21 defensive tackles in pass rushing productivity via Pro Football Focus. I saw Tiller use his punch effectively several times during the game.
He also was able to pick up a stunt, which shouldn't be an awe-inspiring moment. But given the play of the offensive line thus far these kinds of plays are not guaranteed.
Now, let's look at the numbers.
Across all facets, Tiller outplayed Devey. By no means did Tiller play a perfect game, but the recently promoted guard did not allow any pressures despite playing 7 more pass snaps than Devey. PFF graded him as the 49ers best run blocker on Sunday, and he did get a push several times on his blocks. Despite this, I thought his performance as a pass blocker was more notable.
I'm not sure why the coaching staff felt they need to rotate Devey and Tiller. I'm not sure why they let a guy like Tiller hang out on the practice squad while Kaepernick was getting David Carr'd. Perhaps the staff feels Devey is more agile and better suited for their primarily zone-based run game. But, at least in this game, Andrew Tiller was the better overall right guard than Jordan Devey.