News Archive
logo.jpg (11350 bytes)


Offensive Line Aplenty
February 24th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Last season the 49ers started the same offensive line as in the prior season for the first time in a long time. The group, lead by center Jeremy Newberry and veteran tackle Ray Brown picked up right where they left off the year before, aiding the 49ers in becoming one of the most productive offenses in the league. Behind this offensive line the 49ers were able to establish a dominant run game despite losing their 'feature' back last off-season. It's very rare for a team to return an entire starting group at any position on the field, and offensive line is one of the rarest possible. So when the 49ers took the field on opening day of the 2001 season, they were at a distinct advantage.

The 49ers of 2002 are not likely to have that same advantage. While the group is expected to return Derek Deese, Dave Fiore and Scott Gragg; Jeremy Newberry is a free agent, and the team is likely to release the 16-year veteran Brown due to salary cap constraints. Backup center Ben Lynch may be gone to as could backup tackle Matt Willig - a free agent. On the surface this does not look very good for Jeff Garcia or the running backs.

However the 2001 offensive line seemed to struggle against teams with much more bulk on their defensive line - take the Packers and Gilbert Brown. The 49ers were drastically out matched despite having a dominating offensive line for most of the season. It became quite apparent through this and a few other games that there simply is no substitute for size.

This off-season the 49ers have to address their offensive line. The team must find a way to return Newberry and add some bulk up front. Typically an athletic offensive line, the 49ers must find an agile, large offensive lineman or two, in order to really solidify this group.

The offensive line is the foundation of any offense, if it can do its job it usually means havoc for the opposing defenses. The 49ers were lucky last season that their offensive line was so highly skilled, but when push came to shove they were simply over their heads. Expect that to change this off-season, expect a different starting offensive line than this past season, and expect it to make up for its loss of chemistry with more bulk.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

fball.jpg (6395 bytes)fball.jpg (6395 bytes)