Recently, we touched up on the fact that the San Francisco 49ers are taking a big gamble with their right guard position. The offensive line is perhaps the most important group of positions in football, and going in without a real right guard to actually battle for a starting spot is dangerous stuff when you're a team that was one game away from the Super Bowl a season ago.
When push comes to shove in the NFC Championship game, there's a good chance it comes down to small imperfections. Having a right guard who is new to the position or simply isn't good at it could be devastating to the entire flow of a game, let alone an entire season.
On Thursday, the 49ers signed veteran guard Leonard Davis, presumably to come in and compete with converted offensive tackle Alex Boone. It's an interesting development, given Davis' pedigree. The man has started over 150 games at guard in his career, while Boone has only done light work as a backup swing tackle. Granted, many were excited about his ability at swing tackle, but he wasn't anything near what Davis has been.
There's also the prevailing theory that Boone just isn't suited for RG. The man is 6-foot-8 and - let's stress this one more time - hasn't played the position before. Davis is a couple inches shorter and a quarter short of a 100 pounds heavier.
All of that being said, it would still be better for the 49ers is Boone won the starting job. If Boone won the starting job, that means he's more fundamentally sound than the aging Davis. He's certainly more strong and athletic at this point in their careers (at least over a season that could run 19 games). Boone needs to go out there and win this starting job, so the 49ers don't have to rely on a guy that they didn't sign months ago when they were able to.
Boone is their first option at the position. Moving to a guy like Davis doesn't mean that Davis showed something truly awesome out there on the practice field, it means Boone failed. If Boone doesn't start in 2012-13, that means he failed. It doesn't mean anything about Davis other than that he's familiar enough to be put into the role until all of his bones are broken. San Francisco would surely be a better team next year if Boone wins this battle.