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49ers placing more emphasis on offensive line fitness

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The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly placing more emphasis on fitness for the offensive line. Could this further foreshadow increased use of zone blocking?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers appear to be mixing in some zone blocking concepts, and further comments about offensive line fitness might be reinforcing that idea. Eric Branch chatted with offensive lineman Marcus Martin last week during minicamp, and the center/guard indicated he has slimmed down to the best shape of his life. We hear plenty of that in any offseason, but it is worth noting Martin specified he had lost ten pounds from last year's playing weight of 330.

Earlier this week, we discussed the 49ers interest in Evan Mathis. The former Philadelphia Eagles guard is best suited for a zone blocking scheme. The 49ers have run primarily power in recent years, but there has been talk about the team instituting some zone concepts. Fitness is always important, but a renewed emphasis might further foreshadow the team's plan on instituting zone blocking schemes.

All indications are that we can expect a mix of options, and not just strictly zone or power. I imagine it makes the learning curve a little bit steeper given the use of multiple schemes, but it would seemingly put the team in position to keep defenses off balance. Carlos Hyde did good work at Ohio State in zone schemes, so this would seem to potentially better suit him.

It remains to be seen how successful this will be, but it adds a little more intrigue to a season that is filled with it. We are likely going to see the most significant scheme changes since before Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman arrived on the scene. I have said this before, but no matter how good or bad this team is, it will provide us with plenty to keep an eye on week-to-week.