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Adam Snyder is on the verge of replacing Chilo Rachal
The San Francisco 49ers' offensive line has not played up to expectations thus far in 2011. With three first-round draft picks, a second-round pick and an expensive free agent along their line, there is absolutely no excuse for their poor play.
The 49ers line has allowed 13 sacks in 2011, 11 of them coming in the last two games. In addition, quarterback Alex Smith has endured several other big hits, one even resulting in a concussion in the Dallas game.
The weakness of the line has also meant that the 49ers have had to run more quick passes and underneath routes. They are unable to stretch the field because Smith simply does not have time to throw.
In retrospect, it's amazing that Smith has only thrown one interception in the first three games. He is not forcing the ball and making the critical turnover in the games the 49ers have won. This is a testament to Jim Harbaugh and his teaching of Smith.
Only left guard Mike Iupati has played well along the 49ers line. The other guard, Chilo Rachal, has been terrible in all phases of his job. Poor pass protection, lousy run-blocking, holding and false start penalties—you name it and Rachal has done it.
Versatile guard Adam Snyder replaced Rachal on several series in the Bengals game and I expect that trend to continue. Snyder should ultimately move into the starting role.
Left tackle Joe Staley has been beaten by the speed rush and also had problems with the bull rush against the Bengals. Staley looks bigger and slower, which hinders his ability to contain speed-rushers. In addition, because he's too big, he is off balance and easily pushed back against strong bull-rush techniques. I believe Staley needs to lose weight in order to be more nimble and effective.
Center Jonathan Goodwin joined the 49ers as a free agent. He is a former Pro Bowler and needs to step up his play. I think he will be able to do so if he's more comfortable with the players around him.
Right tackle Anthony Davis is young and improving, albeit slowly. He has athletic ability, but needs to improve his consistency. He also is typically responsible for two or three penalties a game.
The 49ers have invested a huge amount into building the line, and this group has not performed up to par. The 49ers must give Smith time to throw and the receivers need to do a better job to get open.