The San Francisco 49ers had virtually their entire roster on hand for mandatory minicamp last week, including offensive lineman Alex Boone. The 49ers have started Boone at right guard since he moved into the starting lineup in 2012. He has swung out to left tackle when Joe Staley has had in-game injuries, but right guard has been his spot.
Last week at minicamp, Boone spent much of his time at left guard. He was primarily working with the second string offensive line, but he also moved into the first string at times. Andrew Tiller was in with the first team the rest of the time, while Brandon Thomas got work at right guard.
Jim Tomsula and Geep Chryst both discussed the work Boone has gotten on the left side.
"Well, again, we're working him at the left guard position, and again, you start talking about creating some depth. The stance is the same if you did left tackle. So, having some depth there and your footwork's the same. So, that's what we're looking at and he's comfortable there. So, we're getting some work there. And again, I don't want anybody to hold us in stone that that's where he's staying. Boone can play the right guard, the right tackle position. And Boone is getting a little bit of work at the left guard position right now. Again, that's more for the footwork and the stance and looking to create some depth at the left tackle spot."
"(If) you lose a guy of the caliber of
Joe Staley, what's your answer?" Chryst asked a group of reporters. "By getting Alex repped on the left side, it's more natural to move him from left guard to left tackle than, hey, he's a right guard, right tackle and you flip him over to the left side."
"I think it's a great opportunity for us, at this time, to put him on the left side and see how natural he feels," Chryst said. "And I think he's been doing a really nice job over there."
Could this mean we see Boone at left guard into training camp and the full season? Or is this just a chance to get him some work before he focuses more fully on right guard or right tackle? Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen discussed some of the things that actually happen in minicamp. The article was based on his own seven-year NFL career, as well as that of several players. Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander had this to say:
"I'm asked to play different positions, so [that means] getting a strong grasp on our scheme so I can disguise better [and] understanding other people's jobs so I know when I can cheat my alignment and make plays," Alexander said. "And I'm always working on my technique making sure it's solid as well as trying to improve areas of weakness."
The 49ers could be looking at Boone at left guard for a variety of reasons. It might make sense to play him at left guard if he is viewed as the best replacement if Joe Staley gets hurt. Boone played left tackle extensively in college, and looked good at it in brief runs with the 49ers. Maybe he's just that "left" guy. Given that he missed most of the offseason workout program and the team is installing some changes on the line, it would make the most sense that he is in fact going to be the left guard. But maybe they really are just giving him some different looks before finalizing his position in August.