Alex Boone

Anthony Davis still not practicing, but is Jonathan Martin a lock to start?

Jonathan Martin San Francisco 49ers

Every instinct is telling me not to write this. But that usually makes writing something more fun, so what the hell. Let’s grab some potato sacks and take a ride on the giant county fair slide of speculation, shall we?

Anthony “Bam” Davis didn’t practice for the third straight day, due to a hamstring strain. He barely practiced throughout the offseason, finally joining the team on the practice field after the second preseason game. The 49ers right tackle underwent surgery on his shoulder in April.

Davis hasn’t missed a start in his NFL career, so the possibility remains that he keeps that streak going on Sunday. Jim Harbaugh could say as much today, which is why this post could be rendered irrelevant at about 12:35 pm (20 minutes after I publish this). However, Harbaugh probably won’t reveal any details — and if he does, it appears likely he’d tab Jonathan Martin as the starter at Davis’ position.

But the 49ers don’t always do what’s likely.

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Colin Kaepernick Alex Boone 3

Alex Boone signed a revised deal that will keep him with the team through the 2015 season. He’s back in camp, and unless he’s out of shape or the 49ers plan to run a large number of brand new offensive plays against the Cowboys, he’s available to start. General wisdom says Boone would return to his old position (right guard), sending Joe Looney to the bench.

I’m going to assume Boone starts (another risk I’m taking in this oh-so-daring post about offensive linemen). However, I can just as soon see him starting at right tackle, with Looney staying in at guard. Something else to note: since the 49ers have a roster exemption for Boone, they’d need to release someone to add him to their 53-man roster.

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From yesterday’s Greg Roman press conference:

Q: Where do things stand with T Anthony Davis and your right tackle situation?

Roman: “Well, funny you should ask. Getting to ready to go meet with the trainers here and get an update. Day-to-day at this point.”

Q: Was it one of those situations where a guy has a long time off and comes back and strains the hamstring?

Roman: “I don’t know that I’d characterize it as such. It’s something minor that he’s working through, and I’m getting ready to kind of get the details on it today.”

Q: If he can’t play, are you comfortable with T Jonathan Martin, who seemed to get better with each preseason game, at least from our perspective?

Roman: “Your perspective is exactly right. He did. Jonathan is a guy that I had the opportunity to work with at Stanford. Really, really glad to have him on the team, but I’m ready to roll with anybody we put out there.”

Q: Does he look stronger to you?

Roman: “Getting stronger, yeah, definitely. Especially coming off the mono in the spring. I think he’s definitely made strides there. He lost a bunch of weight and a lot of the gains he had put together, he had to start back at square one once he got over that little illness.”

Q: Is G/T Alex Boone going to start at right guard?

Roman: “You know, that’s a good question. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Q: How has he looked physically?

Roman: “Looks good. He missed some time, but he looks good. I think he’s jumped back into the offense. We’ve cut way back on some stuff, so the stuff we’re doing is pretty manageable for him.”

In his own subtle way, I took Roman’s comments to mean he isn’t exactly sold on Martin, and he’s comfortable with a guy he’s worked with for three seasons and 40 starts. As for that idea about a bunch of brand new plays making their way into a game plan against one of the worst defenses in the league, Roman’s remark about “cut(ting) back on some stuff” should put that to rest. Actually, scratch that. Roman could be messing with Dallas there.

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When Joe Staley had to leave the game against the Rams at Candlestick last season, many expected Adam Snyder to replace Staley at left tackle. Instead, the 49ers moved Boone to left tackle and inserted Looney at right guard. The 49ers believed Boone to be a better option at left tackle, and Looney at right guard, than Snyder at either position.

I’m wondering if the 49ers feel the same way about Boone and Looney in comparison with Martin this year. Yes, Martin has “made strides” since dealing with “that little illness” (interesting wording from Roman on that one). But I’m having a hard time believing the 49ers will trust Martin to start in Week 1. The 49ers gave Boone a raise because of his versatility in times like these — they even listed him as a “G/T” in the transcript, for what it’s worth. I think there’s a better chance Davis plays through his hamstring injury, or Looney and Boone start on the right side together (I’ll ask Harbaugh about this option shortly, if one of the other writers doesn’t beat me to it), than Martin getting the nod this early in his 49ers redemption mission.

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