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The 49ers need a strong year from Joe Staley
It has often been said that an offensive line is a unit and each player must work cohesively with the others in that unit. For this reason, I am isolating the entire offensive line as one group that needs to step up and perform much better.
The 49ers had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year; they gave up 44 sacks, struggled with penalties and had trouble establishing a successful running game. A large part of this was the offensive game plan and play-calling.
The 49ers were incredibly predictable on offense and were often faced with 3rd-and-long situations. The opposition pressured the quarterback and harassed him into making mistakes.
Right tackle is being handled by second-year pro Anthony Davis. He was repeatedly victimized by strong pass rushers and committed false start and holding penalties at an alarming rate. Davis was not ready to start last year and he simply must be better in 2011.
The right guard spot was also extremely shaky last year. Chilo Rachal played inconsistently and could lose his job to super-sub Adam Snyder. Snyder has practiced in this spot recently and may win the job.
The 49ers lost David Baas in free agency, but went out and signed veteran Jonathan Goodwin. Goodwin will most likely start at center.
The left guard in 2010, Mike Iupati was a bright spot for the 49ers. As a rookie, Iupati improved throughout the season and is one of the most devastating run blockers in the league.
Joe Staley starts at left tackle and must be at full strength to protect Alex Smith's blind side. Staley has missed a large part of the past two seasons, but appears healthy at this point. The 49ers need Staley to stay healthy and be effective.
A productive offense always starts with good offensive line play. Harbaugh built a strong line at Stanford and I expect him to do that in San Francisco as well.