As training camp kicks off for the San Francisco 49ers, there's plenty going on behind the starting 22 when it comes to positions up for grabs. Battles for playing time are set to heat up at the running back position, wide receiver position, cornerback position, and of course, there is the backup quarterback battle between Colin Kaepernick and Josh Johnson.
And for the first time in what seems like forever, the 49ers don't have a myriad of spots open in the starting lineup. The quarterback situation is settled, there's plenty of receivers that can start, they're not looking to replace any linebackers or defensive backs ... which just leaves the offensive line.
It's a pretty big caveat, as it happens.
The reason it's a big issue for the 49ers isn't just that the right guard doesn't presently have a starter, it's that the right guard spot presently doesn't have ... well, a right guard. There is nobody with starting experience in the NFL available to start at the position. There's rookies Jason Slowey and Joe Looney, and then there's second-year player Daniel Kilgore and Alex Boone.
None of them have any experience at right guard in the NFL. Boone has played at the tackle position his entire career, and seems far too large to play right guard at 6-foot-8, but it seems like that's what the 49ers are going with. Boone has been given the first team reps at the position thus far and Kilgore is looking more and more like he's going to simply be a multi-tool backup.
So aside from the fact that Boone starting at right guard means the 49ers now have no real backup tackle either, it's just not a confidence-inspiring situation. If there were two guard battling it out, that'd be one thing. But right now the 49ers are in a position where they're depending on an over-sized tackle to fill a spot he's never played before. On top of that, the depth on the offensive line is startlingly thin.
Hopefully, it all works out the way Jim Harbaugh has planned it. Nobody quite understands what goes on in that head of his, but he's had plans backfire on him before - it's just the fact that they work more often than naught that has made him such a great coach. Here's to hoping this is one of those times.