The San Francisco 49ers finally found the end zone on Sunday after being outscored 57-3 during the first two weeks of the 2014 preseason.
San Francisco has been particularly inefficient on the offensive side of the football, and at least part of the blame may belong to the absence of starting guard Alex Boone.
Boone, who has started the past two seasons for San Francisco, is currently in the midst of a contract holdout and away from the rest of the team.
Considering the situation surrounding the San Francisco offensive line, the 49ers would probably love to have him back in the fold.
Through the first two weeks of the preseason, the 49ers averaged just 3.4 yards per rushing attempt as a team and a league worst 208.5 yards of total offense per game. The team was better against the San Diego Chargers in their third game (301 yards of offense, 3.7 yards per rush) but also watched rookie center Marcus Martin go down with an injury in the second half.
49ers rookie C/G Marcus Martin carted off the field...again, something you hate seeing during the preseason.— Erin Coscarelli (@erincoscarelli) August 24, 2014
Martin's injury only adds to concerns about the interior of the 49ers offensive line.
Fourth-year pro Daniel Kilgore is entering his first season as San Francisco's center, while six-year starter Jonathan Goodwin is now with the New Orleans Saints. Boone's projected replacement at right guard, Joe Looney, is currently rated just 168th among all guards this preseason by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
To make matters worse, left guard Mike Iupati has been a preseason disappointment as well (ranked 86th among guards).
Publicly, the 49ers have shown their support for Looney. however, virtually any team would be expected to support a player when there is a holdout at his position.
"We believe we can win with Joe Looney," head coach Jim Harbaugh said of his guard, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. "Again, Joe Looney is working every day to improve his game and that’s what the unit is doing, all 11 and key backups."
With San Francisco dealing with inexperience at the center position and inefficiency at both guard spots, it is hard to imagine that the presence of Boone wouldn't help improve the offensive line as a whole.
The problem is that the 49ers may have a difficult time convincing Boone to end his holdout without giving in to his contract demands.
According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Boone has already turned down an offer that would make him one of the 12 highest-paid guards in the league. The struggles along San Francisco's offensive line only add to Boone's leverage.
Alex Boone has been offered a contract by @49ers that would make him a top 12-paid OG. He turned it down.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) August 18, 2014
There are certainly other teams who could use the help at guard and would be willing to offer Boone the type of contract he believes he is worth. However, the 49ers are not interested in trading him, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.
As injuries mount across OLs, hearing more teams interested in Alex Boone. At some point would they deal him? No progress in contract talks— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 18, 2014
If the 49ers really are not interested in dealing Boone, it essentially leaves the team with two options. San Francisco can either let Boone sit at home and continue to rack up fines, or it can start working overtime to try to get a new deal done in order to bring the veteran back onto the roster.
After watching the 49ers struggle to find consistency along the interior of the offensive line, the latter option is definitely looking like the better one.