The San Francisco 49ers have been rolling out the same starting five on the offensive line for the first two weeks of training camp, and used them in the preseason opener against the Texans. However, that starting five is no sure thing. OL coach Pat Flaherty chatted with 49ers media on Monday, and he said left tackle Joe Staley is the only player to have earned a guaranteed spot coming into camp.
The team moved rookie first round pick Joshua Garnett from right guard to left guard, and Flaherty said the plan was to cross-train him. Zane Beadles is not a long-term solution, and Flaherty admitted he has some things to work on this month. That being said, he’s the starter for now. The team has three preseason games remaining. I’d like to see a consistent group get enough time together to build chemistry. For now, the same starting five are doing their thing. We’ll see if it changes after this weekend’s game with Denver.
The transcript below does not include every question, but has most. Matt Maiocco had some other quotations from the session, including discussion of Daniel Kilgore.
On performance vs. Texans:
There was some good blocks, and I thought as a group, each group played well together. We can do some better things on each and every play, but from a coaching standpoint, what we were please with, they came out and they played together, and we tried to be physical with our pads, and it’s really the first time we’re able to do this, not counting the practice that we had against the Texans. That was encouraging.
On when he’d like five guys settled for OL:
Absolutely. You’d like to get the line settled in, and it’s gonna help the communications. But what we do in the offensive line room each day is we communicate together. We’re getting part of that as we go forward. But until we get the five best guys together, that’s gonna take a little bit of time through preseason. One thing that the offseason now is we don’t have any contact in the offseason. We really have to wait until training camp to find out who the group’s gonna be.
On Joshua Garnett moving between right and left guard:
Well, you know he wasn’t here in the offseason very much, and then when we brought him into training camp we decided to start him on the right side. And as we moved forward, we thought maybe the best side for us and him is the left side. As a young player, that’s going to happen to you from time to time until you solidify a job. Not just saying Joshua, anybody who’s the sixth and seventh lineman on game day, they have to be versatile. So he got a little bit of that. And from the other point of view, we don’t want to move young players around too much. We gotta let them settle in.
On Andrew Tiller:
Andrew is a tough guy that just tries to do everything you ask him to do. He plays with a lot of strength. He also plays with a lot of effort. So far, he’s doing a good job.
On if Garnett move means Tiller is impressing:
Well, yea, more than anything, we wanted to get Joshua, we wanted to get him exposed to both sides. And then get him settled into one. That’s probably as much, just training a younger player right now, until you get closer to the season you want to get him settled in.
On Anthony Davis assimilation:
You know, Anthony has done, I mean from Day 1 when he came here, he’s been all business, both in the classroom and on the field. Obviously you know he’s a talented guy. And his demeanor, he loves playing the game. The thing I really took notice [Sunday] is he was excited. It’s hard to get excited for practice, but Anthony has gotten excited for practices. And maybe because he’s been out a year, but [Sunday] we had kind of a pitch count on him, and he wasn’t very happy about that with me, because he kinda wanted to extend it. But we said, we’ll try and extend it each week.
On any contact with Davis before he came back:
Well we had communication as I had mentioned in the offseason. Because I was kind of interested to see what he was gonna do. And then, the communication stayed pretty consistent, and it was all on him. We had to make sure he was, his mind was set to be able to do this again.
On if loser of RT gets cross-training at LT:
Well, we’re gonna have to have a swing tackle. Whether that’s Erik [Pears], whether that’s Trent, we don’t know that right now. But definitely when you get into the season you’re gonna have to have guys able to swing, whether that tackle’s gonna come from the guard spot, it comes from a lot of different spots. The biggest thing we want to do right now, from my offensive line coach standpoint, is develop these guys and get them better at what we’re doing, and then we’ll get them slotted as we go.
We have so much work to do with our fundamentals and techniques that’s going to help them throughout the season. So, whether or not they’re playing the left side, right side, as I tell these guys, you gotta be able to play both sides. We want the five healthiest and the five best guys will be out there.
On if they want Davis working at 1st team RT:
You know, we haven’t discussed that. One thing that we always, or I always remind the offensive line room is, five best guys are gonna play, so you have to prove it when you have an opportunity to come out and prove it in preseason games and practice. There’s been no discussion about positions, other than tackle for Anthony.
On if Zane Beadles is still competing for LG spot:
Definitely. As I’ve noticed, when I came here, the guy that really had a starting job was Joe Staley. I didn’t perceive anybody else or predict anybody else as starter. Now, when we signed Zane, we signed a veteran who has played for a couple teams. And I wanted, you know, he needed to improve some things. We talked about it as he signed to come here. I’m glad we have him. He’s getting better every day, too. But nothing’s handed to him, anybody really. Joe probably would be the only one you could say something, but Joe’s earned it over the years. He’s in his 10th year and he’s played high-level football for the 49ers. He probably deserves, and it wasn’t handed to him, he earned it.