Last week, CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco used snap counts — as well as basic observation — to surmise that the addition of Alex Boone at right guard not only provided the line some much needed durability, but some stability as well. Maiocco is obviously right, but the extent to which he’s correct might surprise.
Last season, when running to the right side of the line (without a lead fullback or a tight end), 49ers’ running backs gained just 282 yards on 86 carries, good for an average of just a 3.27 yards per carry (YPC). When running toward the left (again without a fullback or tight end), running backs gained 355 yards 97 carries, which is only a slightly better 3.65 YPC. This season, the 49ers have been much more successful. When running to the right, running backs have gained 484 yards on 91 carries, good for an average of 5.31 YPC. That’s an improvement of more than two yards. The left side, too, has seen an improvement to the tune of just over one-and-a-half yards per carry.
Boone has made his mark in the pass game as well. The man Boone replaced, Adam Snyder, was rated the worst guard in the NFL by the Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. After film study, Miller described Snyder as “not quick enough” and “easy to run over.”
True to Miller’s description, Pro Football Focus (PFF) found that in the regular season only three other guards gave up more pressures relative to their total snaps. In 2011 PFF scored Snyder a 93.9 in pass blocking efficiency (PBE), which measures pressures allowed by snap with weighting toward sacks allowed. In last year’s playoffs Snyder was even worse, garnering a PBE of 91.5 after allowing nine total pressures in just 79 pass blocking snaps. In contrast, in 60 playoffs snaps thus far, Boone has given up only one pressure.
So while Boone has provided continuity and dependability to the 49ers’ offensive front, he’s provided skill as well. This will be a skill that we can expect to be tested by the Ravens front seven, particularly if Haloti Ngata lines up at left end. Even if it’s not Ngata, Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee present difficult match-ups, as both rank in the top-10 of PFF’s pass rush productivity among 3-4 defensive ends. But whoever the competition, Boone has shown the ability to stifle it.