49ers line sticks together as team strength

49ers line sticks together as team strength
January 15, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Offensive linemen Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone and Anthony Davis (pictured) have started every game for the 49ers this season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

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SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards. Frank Gore added 119 yards on the ground. And Kaepernick also threw for 263 yards.

That can mean only one thing: The 49ers' offensive line had a spectacular game in the team's 45-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night in an NFC semifinal.

But things were short of perfect, left guard Alex Boone said on Tuesday, as the 49ers began preparations to face the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

"It was good, but there are still some things we need to clean up," Boone said. "Little things, footwork, we can be lower, hold our blocks longer. We can be better."

Much of the success of the 49ers' offensive line this season can be attributed to the fact that the same five players -- left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati, center Jonathan Goodwin, Boone and right tackle Anthony Davis -- started every game.

And that group was together Tuesday, as well.

Goodwin's wife, Alneesa, gave birth to the couple's third son, Cade Spencer, early Monday morning. Goodwin took a flight after the 49ers' win over the Packers on Saturday and finally arrived in Columbia, S.C., after a three-hour layover in Atlanta, at 10:30 Sunday morning.

He boarded a 5:40 a.m. flight Tuesday from South Carolina and arrived back in Bay Area in time for a 12:30 p.m. meeting.

"I haven't seen any tape on them yet," Goodwin said of the Falcons. "That's part of the reason I wanted to get back. Momma understood. I wanted to get back and look at them because these opportunities, even though we've been in them the past two years, they don't come too often."

The 49ers have invested in the offensive line with first-round selections of Staley (2007), Davis (2010) and Iupati (2010). Boone was signed as an undrafted rookie (2009), and Goodwin was signed a free agent last year. The offensive line is one of the strengths of the 49ers, and it showed in their playoff-opening victory.

Staley and Iupati, in particular, had strong games against the Packers. Staley managed to play through a badly bruised right forearm to negate the impact of Green Bay Pro Bowl outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Staley underwent X-rays that were negative, and should not be impacted in Sunday's game. And Iupati had his best game with the 49ers.

"Mike graded out the best game he's had since we've been with him," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "So tremendous game by Mike and Joe, both were playing great football.

"Then again, the offensive line is a unit . . . those guys really deserve a lot of credit up front. They've been healthy, they've played through nicks. Toughness is a talent. Just like running ability for a quarterback, toughness is a talent that our offensive line has shown that they have and they continue to do well."

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