San Francisco 49ers: How Adding Leonard Davis Can Help the O-Line Significantly

Brandon BurnettContributor IIIJuly 27, 2012

Three-time Pro Bowl guard Leonard Davis.
Three-time Pro Bowl guard Leonard Davis.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Leonard Davis may not be joining the 49ers with the hype of fellow newcomer and future Hall of Fame WR Randy Moss, but that doesn't mean he can't provide the team with a significant boost.

Yes, I'm aware that the 6'6", 375-pound veteran lineman who signed a one-year deal with the 49ers on Thursday (per the team's website) missed all of the 2011 season—as did Moss—and his days of playing at a Pro Bowl level are likely long gone. 

And yes, it's been well-documented throughout the spring and summer that the opening at right guard has essentially become former swing tackle Alex Boone's job to lose.

But the mauling run-blocker didn't make his way to Santa Clara without intentions of competing for a starting job. He made that evident in an interview at 49er headquarters on Thursday. Per, he said:

“I took it as a challenge. I just said, ‘Hey, even though I’m not starting, I’m still going to compete to start.’”

CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco recently highlighted the newly formed camp battle between Davis and Boone and was spot on in stating that the 49ers brought in Davis for one reason: to see if he's a better option than Boone at right guard.

But I'm thinking there may be a deeper motive behind this signing. 

By moving Boone to the starting position at right guard, the 49ers would be creating a significant depth deficiency at the tackle position.

In other words, if either left tackle Joe Staley or right tackle Anthony Davis suffers an injury, who is left to fill the void?

Do you leave Boone at guard and trust an unproven youngster like Mike Person or Derek Hall to start at either tackle spot?

The only alternative would be to slide Boone back to tackle and use Davis or Daniel Kilgore at guard. But that potentially creates a mess that that, in my opinion, isn't worth the trouble. 

The best-case scenario in this situation is that Davis earns the starting nod at right guard for 2012, and Boone can remain the team's third option at tackle.

Meanwhile, the team can continue to mold Kilgore and 2012 fourth-round pick Joe Looney for long-term options at RG.

Besides, Boone made a name for himself as the swing tackle in Harbaugh's power-based offense last year, and many believe he's capable of being a full-time left tackle in the NFL for years to come. 

Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman love to use jumbo packages on offense, especially ones that send three tackles on the field at once. Boone was great for this role a year ago and would likely be even better this season.

Would Person, a seventh-round pick in 2011, or any other potential backup tackle fill the role of "swing tackle" without a drop-off in production?

Doubtful, but I won't rule it out.

My point is that the 49ers have an abundance of depth at nearly every position heading into 2012, but moving Boone inside to guard would create a serious void in depth at offensive tackle.

It seems, though, the 49er front office is trying to avoid creating this potential hole if at all possible—a wise move in my eyes. 

Of course, Baalke and Harbaugh have already proven to be wise beyond their years, as they continue to construct a well-rounded roster laden with talent. Their personnel decisions, both in the draft and free agency, have almost all provided immediate benefits in the recent past.

Why would this move be any different?


Would you rather see Alex Boone starting at right guard in 2012, or remain as the team's third option at tackle? Be sure to deposit your thoughts into the comment thread below.

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