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Staley is an incredibly effective lead blocker in space.
LT Joe Staley
Staley fulfills the role of most valuable lineman for the 49ers.
Better yet, San Francisco’s left tackle has ascended into one of the premier blind-side protectors in all of football.
The 6’5’’, 315-pounder owns elite athleticism, technique and sheer power. He dominates in the 49ers’ power-run schemes and moves as fluidly as anyone at his position.
PFF recognizes him as the No. 2 ranked tackle in the NFL, and absolute best when it comes to run blocking. The 49ers’ own No. 2 ranked rushing offense owes much of its success to Staley.
There are times where he falters a bit in pass protection (e.g. Week 1 @ GB), but these shortcomings have been largely confined to selective moments. He handles this assignment with great proficiency overall.
One way or another, Staley should be a certifiable lock for 2012 Pro Bowl. No player in the NFC comes close.
LG Mike Iupati
No 49er better represents the team’s hard-nosed identity than Mike Iupati.
The man holding down the fort at left guard is an absolute rough-and-tough mauler.
Iupati generates awesome leverage against interior defensive linemen, using his unreal power and athleticism. He paves rushing lanes in true road-grading fashion, often doing so far beyond the line of scrimmage.
The frightening American Samoan is 6’5’’, 331 pounds of pure force—continually winning battles in the trenches for the 49ers.
And that very much includes warding off would-be pass-rushers. He has surrendered only two sacks all season.
One of the few knocks against Iupati is his penchant for flag-inducing infractions. He has been a little too aggressive at times—eight penalties through 12 games are way too many.
By and large, however, Iupati is a coach’s dream at the guard position and is one of the league’s best. He should be rewarded with a Pro Bowl nod in 2012.
RG Alex Boone
Now, who would have seen this coming?
Alex Boone made the transition from backup offensive tackle, to relative league-leading right guard—all over the course of one offseason.
Boone scoffed at the notion that his 6’8’’, 300-pound physical specs were suited only for the tackle position. He made the move inside to right guard and has mauled his way to glory ever since.
Only his previously mentioned teammate and Eagles left guard operate better as run-blockers according to PFF. Boone moves really well off the line and opens up massive holes for 49ers running backs.
And he does so cleanly, having been penalized just once in 2012.
One also cannot forget how incredible was Boone’s filling of the gigantic void in reliable play on the right side of the line from years past (see: Chilo Rachal; Adam Snyder).
Even having allowed just three sacks and three QB hits on the season, Boone’s work in pass protection might leave him off the Pro Bowl ballot. The rift in overall effectiveness between pass-pro and run blocking might prove too significant.
But if Niners fans and PFF had their way, the NFC might have a new perennial Pro Bowl RG for the foreseeable future.
C Jonathan Goodwin
The 49ers center has been as steady as they come, not having surrendered any sacks or QB hits—all while playing with quarterbacks with two completely different styles.