Offensive Line Concerns
May 2 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The 49ers had a rather dominating offensive line last season, but when matched against bigger defensive lines it often collapsed. Itís a miracle Jeff Garcia was able to avoid the rush as often as he did and somehow stay healthy. The 49ers set out to improve the offensive line this season with the signing of guard Ron Stone.
Stone was expected to move to the left guard spot vacated by Ray Brown, who the 49ers feel had a drop off of his level of play towards the end of last season. But Stone likely will move to the right side of the line, to play his natural position and next to Scott Gragg who used to play along side him when they were both with the Giants. The move pushes the versatile Dave Fiore to the left side.
While Iím not overly worried about the starting personnel along the line, I do have some hesitations about placing Stone on the right side. My biggest worry is that it leaves the left side of the line much lighter than the right side. This virtually telegraphs to which side the 49ers will run, and gives defenses a target to blitz from.
The line, from left to right weighs as follows: Deese (~289), Fiore (~290), Newberry (~320), Stone(~330), and Gragg (~325). Clearly there is a huge weight differential from left to right likely making the left side of the line weaker than the right.
The 49ers must consider either moving Stone to the left side, or bringing in a free agent like Blake Brokermeyer to play on the left side. The team, in my eyes simply canít risk exposing Garciaís blind side. Itís too dangerous.