Boone expected to get chance to compete at guard

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Boone expected to get chance to compete at guard

When the 49ers' offseason programs begins Monday, offensive lineman Alex Boone is likely to get a chance to show his versatility.Boone, who was the 49ers' primary backup at both offensive tackle positions last season, is expected to get a chance to compete for a starting job at guard, according to multiple individuals close to the team.Coach Jim Harbaugh regularly referred to Boone last season as one of his seven "starting" offensive linemen. Boone spent all of 2009 on the 49ers' practice squad after being an undrafted free agent from Ohio State. He saw action in just one game in 2010.Boone, who is listed at 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, took over for veteran Barry Sims as the 49ers' backup tackle on both sides last season. He played 172 snaps on offense, including 55 at left tackle on Dec. 11 against the Arizona Cardinals when Joe Staley exited in the first quarter with a concussion. Boone also saw limited action at right tackle and was used regularly as an extra blocker, mostly in short-yardage situations.LeCharles Bentley, a two-time Pro Bowl lineman whose career was cut short after six seasons due to a knee injury and complications from surgery, has worked closely with Boone for several years at Bentley's O-Line Academy near Cleveland.
"Alex can play guard if it's the best thing for the team, but physically it's not the ideal position for him," Bentley said. "Good guards are easier to find than good tackles. I believe Alex is a very good tackle in the making."Harbaugh stated during training camp last summer that the team's five best offensive linemen would start. Boone is expected to compete for a full-time job in 2012 -- though it might require a position change.
The 49ers have four obvious starters on the line, but the club is looking to replace right guard Adam Snyder, who started 15 games, including the playoffs.Snyder signed a five-year contract with the Cardinals as a free agent. And the 49ers have not show much interest in re-signing backup Chilo Rachal, whom Harbaugh also considered a starter even after he was benched at halftime of the 49ers' third game of the season.Daniel Kilgore, whom the 49ers traded up to select last year in the fifth round, is expected to compete for the starting job. Kilgore might also see some time at center behind starter Jonathan Goodwin.The 49ers have looked at a handful of veteran guards in free agency. The team visited with Leonard Davis, Jason Brown, Deuce Lutui and Geoff Schwartz but have yet to sign anyone. Lutui (Seattle) and Schwartz (Minnesota) have since signed with other teams."Honestly, in their scheme, guards are a dime a dozen," Bentley said. "A good young offensive tackle is such a premium. It would be a waste of ability. . . . But if he's one of the five best, yeah, get him on the field."Bentley said he believes the 49ers' best option would be to move right tackle Anthony Davis to guard. It's a switch that is not likely to happen after the 49ers traded up to select Davis with the No. 11 pick in the 2010 draft. The 49ers expect Davis, with his first offseason of work with coaches this year, to develop into one of the game's top right tackles."I believe they have to figure out who the best five are first," Bentley said. "Then, figure out the proper configuration. Alex is my guy. He still has to show he's ready to be an NFL starter. Potential is just unproven talent. There are four guys we all know are starters. They need one more. I believe Alex is a starter, but he's going to have to earn it."

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

There is no shortage of blame to go around for the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl 51.

The Falcons built a 28-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter and let it slip away, ultimately falling to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.

Matt Ryan voiced one previously undisclosed factor in the collapse this week in an interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, pointing the finger at the new coach of the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan has been the focus of a lot of the blame, but critique from the league MVP was a new one.

The Falcons quarterback faulted his former offensive coordinator for taking too much time to relay the play calls. Ryan said he did not have enough time to change any of the plays – presumably checking out of called pass plays to run the ball.

Here’s what Ryan told Prisco:

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

The 49ers can point to mismanagement of the clock for their own Super Bowl heartbreak. The 49ers’ offense had the perfect play call at the perfect time against the Baltimore Ravens late in Super Bowl XLVII.

But with the play clock striking :00, coach Jim Harbaugh was forced to call a timeout from the sideline. A split-second later, the ball was snapped and it appeared the quarterback run would have easily ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the end zone.

Much like after the 49ers’ loss, the Falcons left plenty of room for second-guessing.

Two of Shanahan’s plays calls, which directly led to the collapse, will forever be scrutinized.

The first came with 8:31 remaining in regulation and the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead. On third and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Shanahan did not remain conservative with an expected run play. He swung for the fence.

Receiver Aldrick Robinson, whom the 49ers added this offseason as a free-agent pickup, was breaking free past the Patriots secondary for what could have been a touchdown. But just as Ryan was unloading, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower hit him and forced the fumble. Running back Devonta Freeman whiffed on blitz pickup, which would have provided Ryan with enough time to target Robinson deep.

Ryan’s explanation does not appear applicable on this play, though. In watching the replay, the Falcons broke the huddle with more than 25 seconds remaining on the play clock and the snap occurred with :15 to spare.

The other questionable sequence came after the Falcons – leading by eight points -- got to the New England 22-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons lost 1 yard on a run play on first down.

On second down, Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Before that play, the Falcons broke the huddle with :19 on the play clock. The snap occurred with :04 remaining. The game clock was running, so the Falcons had reason to attempt to burn as much clock as possible.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons never seemed rushed to get off a play. The closest they came to delay-of-game penalties were when they snapped the ball with :04 on the one play and :03 another time. The majority of their snaps occurred with :10 or more seconds to spare.

If the Falcons were guilty of anything when it came to the play clock, it was that the offense did not waste more time. After New England pulled to within 28-9 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ran only six offensive plays while the game clock was running.

On those six plays, the Falcons snapped the ball with :13, :09, :14, :20, :13 and :04 remaining on the play clock. If they’d snapped the ball with one second remaining each time, they could have shortened the game by 1 minute, 7 seconds. The Patriots scored the game-tying touchdown with :57 remaining in regulation.

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.