49ers key matchup No. 3: Boone vs. Starks


49ers key matchup No. 3: Boone vs. Starks

This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Dolphins matchups to watch Sunday, 1 p.m. (CBS), at Candlestick Park.

49ers RG Alex Boone vs. Dolphins DT Randy Starks

Tale of the tape
Boone (75): 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, third season, Ohio State
Starks (94): 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, ninth season, Miami (Fla.)

Alex Boone was asked the question that he wouldn't have even considered when last offseason began.

Is it possible your best position is guard and not tackle?

"Whoa," Boone responded.

Why did the question catch him, ahem, off guard?

"Because I never thought I'd be a good guard, at all," Boone said. "To be honest with you, I'm too tall. I'm not built like a guard. But once you adapt to the game and understand the position it becomes a little easier. There are things you have to continue to work on. It's just different. There's not a lot of space to work with, and you got to make it work."

Boone has made it work through 12 games in his first season after receiving word at the 49ers' first gathering of the offseason that he would be converted to a new position. The 49ers already had left tackle Joe Staley and right tackle Anthony Davis entrenched as starters.

The weak link of the 49ers' offensive line for years had been right guard, where Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder lined up the past several seasons.

Boone has not merely just held his own. He has excelled.

Pro Football Focus, which grades every player at every position, ranks Boone as the No. 3 guard in the NFL behind left guard Evan Mathis (Philadelphia) and right guard Marshal Yanda (Baltimore).

Boone is coming off a strong game against the St. Louis Rams, and he'll have to produce another good effort Sunday when he is matched mostly against the Miami Dolphins' veteran Randy Starks, one of the top defensive tackles in the league.

Starks, who was selected to the AFC Pro Bowl team after the 2010 season, is a versatile player who will pose a challenge for Boone in pass protection. Starks ranks second on the Dolphins behind Cameron Wake with 4.5 sacks on the season. Starks is also stout against the run.

The 49ers must get their run game going, and the Dolphins rank as the league's eighth-toughest defense when it comes to stopping the run. The Dolphins yield just 94.5 yards rushing per game with a 3.7 average. Led by Frank Gore, the 49ers average 5.3 yards per rush attempt.

"Alex, I thought, had one of his best games, if not his best game last week," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "Technically, from an assignment standpoint, everything he did last game was really well. He's come along really well, he's learning every week.

"You see a lot of different styles of defender, a lot of different styles of defense and Alex is the kind of guy we want, a guy that's pushing to get better every week. So he's doing a great job. When he gets out in space, he can get rolling, a bit like an 18-wheeler going down a hill. He did a great job last week on a couple of our perimeter plays."

Boone has found a home at guard for the 49ers. And he might be there for a while. And that's something, when he thinks about it, comes as a surprise.

If and when he ever moves back to tackle, he believes he'll be better for the experience.

"It can make you tougher, being a guard," Boone said. "I always used to think that guards were guys who just sat there and didn't do much and were kind of lazy. But after playing the guard position, it's a tough spot. Guys really try to go through you. They don't try to go around you too much. They just take you down the middle. They're big, thick guys, so you're working every play. It's kind of fun. It's like a fistfight in a phone booth."

New York Giants release kicker Josh Brown

New York Giants release kicker Josh Brown

The New York Giants released placekicker Josh Brown, the team announced on Tuesday.

The NFL suspended Brown for the season opener in Dallas for violating the League’s Personal Conduct Policy.  That suspension was based on his May 22, 2015 arrest on domestic violence charges, which were dismissed approximately five days after the arrest.

Brown served his suspension, returned to the Giants on September 12, and subsequently participated in five games. 

Last Wednesday, approximately 24 hours before the Giants were to depart for London, new information was released by authorities in Washington State.  The new materials disclosed a history of alleged domestic violence by Brown.  On Thursday, the Giants announced Brown would not accompany the team to London, where they played the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. 

Last Friday, the NFL, at the Giants request and citing the documents released two days earlier, placed Brown on the Commissioner Exempt List. 

Today, the Giants released Brown.

“We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh,” said team president John Mara. “Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided.  We accept that responsibility.

“We hope that Josh will continue to dedicate himself to rehabilitation, and to becoming a better person and father.  We will continue to support him in his efforts to continue counseling, and we hope that Josh and his family can find peace and a positive resolution.

“We have great respect and feel strongly about our support for the good people who work tirelessly and unconditionally to aid the victims of domestic violence and who bring awareness to the issue. We have been partners with My Sisters’ Place (a domestic violence shelter and advocate based in Westchester, New York) for nearly 20 years. The leadership of that organization has provided invaluable insight as we have considered our decisions in this matter.  We value and respect their opinion, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

Statement from Josh Brown:
"The road to rehabilitation is a journey and a constant modification of a way of life.  My journey will continue forever as a person determined to leave a positive legacy and I embrace the opportunities to show and speak about what has helped me to be that man.  I am sorry that my past has called into question the character or integrity of The New York Giants, Mr. Mara or any of those who have supported me along the way.  In the coming days and weeks I plan on telling more of the pain I had caused and the measures taken to get help so I may be the voice of change and not a statistic.  In the interim I am cooperating with the Giants and the NFL. Thank you to everyone that has supported me, I will not let you down."

New York Giants media services

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

SANTA CLARA -- In the early afternoon Monday after the 49ers’ day-after-game meetings concluded, the players were excused for the next seven days.

Coach Chip Kelly opted to give the 49ers a week break, rather than going through a couple days of practices before providing the players with a mandatory four consecutive days off during the bye week.

The 49ers on Sunday dropped to 1-6 on the season with a 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But there will be no extra practices to attempt to sharpen their performance.

“They’ve been at it since July 31st,” Kelly said. “They haven’t had more than one day off in a row. So I think at this point in time that’s what our whole MO has always been.

“They’ll meet with our strength and conditioning coaches. They have their lifting programs in terms of what they can do and what they have to do. And I think at this point in time we need to heal up. I think it’s a good break for them to do what they need to do and that’s the way I’ve always done it and our teams have been fresh coming out of the bye week.”

While the players will be off for a week, Kelly said the coaching staff will continue to work through Friday in an attempt to identify areas in which they can improve and snap out of their six-game losing streak on Nov. 6 against the New Orleans Saints at Levi’s Stadium.

“We’ve got a lot of self-scout that we have set aside,” Kelly said. “We’ll be in here all week kind of looking at what we’ve done in the first seven games, what have our opponents done to us in the first seven games relative to what we thought going into the game based on the break downs. Did they change?

“If they were 60-percent pressure going into our game and they were only 30-percent pressure in our game, trying to delve into how people are defending us. How are people attacking us from an offensive standpoint in terms of attacking our defense and what their tendencies were going into the game and then what actually transpired in the game. So we’ve got a lot of film work and a lot of studying to do here during this week.”

Kelly reiterated on Monday that he is not looking at leaving the 49ers after this season. He said he has not heard from any schools with coaching openings or potential openings. Kelly said he has tried to remain focused on his job through the longest losing streak he has ever experienced as a coach.

“No one’s happy, so I don’t know if the word’s anguish, but I mean obviously you try to keep it consistent in terms of your approach to everything that you do,” Kelly said. “I don’t think being consistent and being even-keeled means that it doesn’t bother you or that you’re not frustrated in terms of what’s gone on.”

Kelly said the 49ers have the talent to win games. When asked why the coaches have not been able to extract more victories, Kelly placed the blame for the team’s poor play on himself and his staff.

“That’s on us,” Kelly said. “I agree 100-percent in terms of what you’re saying. But our job is to put our players in position to make plays and we’re not doing a good enough job of that right now.”