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Offensive line - San Francisco game evaluation

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I'm done reviewing the game tape, and this segment is about the offensive line, with some extra comments about other offensive players tacked on at the end. The review of the defensive line and OLB's will come later today.

As you might guess, there was very little wrong about the work of the offensive line play on Saturday night. They were outstanding in pass protection, continuing a trend we've seen over the first two preseason games. This time, though, they did a much better job in the run blocking phase, providing room to run for all of the RB's. So in the review below, I'll be pointing out a few of the errors, but this should be taken in context. On most plays they were very effective, so even the few mistakes I point out should not be taken as an indictment of anybody's play. There's not a single lineman who doesn't get a passing grade for this game.

LT - Pat McQuistan: For a rookie LT going against a first team defense, McQ turned in a very good performance. He didn't have any trouble in pass protection, and had four or five plays where he did a great job in run blocking by sealing the corner or driving his man backwards. He had one really bad play, when the Cowboys had a 1st and goal at the 5-yard line. McQ got beat badly on a run block and the  play ended up losing 5 yards. Other than that, he was solid and is making his case to stay on the 53-man roster.
LG - Kyle Kosier: Kosier had a pretty good game, but not a great game. While he had no glaring errors in pass protection, and he continues to show good mobility when asked to pull, he missed a couple of key blocks on LB's when asked to go to the 2nd level. I counted around three misses in this phase of the game. On the other hand, he did have some great straight ahead drive blocks to open up huge holes. He also got a good back block on a screen pass.

C - Andre Gurode: Another good game for center Andre Gurode, who looks to have cemented the starting position. Gurode is an absolute bulldozer when asked to go straight ahead on his blocks, witness the great job he did (with Kosier) of opening up Barber's TD run. He also did well in picking up a middle-blitz, but had a couple of plays where he needed to hold his block just a little longer. He threw a key block on a screen pass opening up a big gain, and snapped the ball quickly to catch the SF defense offsides, a smart play. A very good overall performance by Gurode.

RG - Marco Rivera: Rivera seems to have returned to form after struggling through last year with the back injury. It was impressive to watch him get out in front of a screen pass and run 30-yards downfield in front of the RB. He also got some good blocks when he pulled, but it is the one area where he had some bad blocks. His pass protection held firm so overall it was a solid, but not great game.

RT - Marc Colombo: I'm going to go ahead and say it now, Marc Colombo will be the starter at RT. He had a very solid game, making some run blocks where he collapsed the line on his side. Only a couple of times did I see him not get a good push when they ran to his side, and he was solid in pass protection, although on a couple of plays he could've used a little better technique. Not much in his performance to quibble with, I think he's the starter.

2nd unit

LT - Rob Petitti: Petitti had an outstanding game in run blocking. The Cowboys spent most of the second half running to his side, and that was smart as Petitti had probably his best game of the preseason. Whether it was down-blocking, looping to the outside, or getting to the second level, Petitti did them all well and Tyson Thompson's numbers show the result. But there was one huge mistake from his side. It's hard to tell the main culprit, but Petitti was surely involved.

The Cowboys lined up two TE's to Petitti's side and sent them both into the pattern. That left the edge unprotected and the 49ers sent the OLB and the DE on the rush. Instead of blocking to the outside on the play, Petitti blocked down on the DT, leaving the guys on the edge untouched, and the DE blind-sided Romo and forced a fumble. Tyson Thompson was supposed to help block on that side, but he went to the OLB first, because he was expecting Petitti to get the DE, he tried to recover but it was too late. D'Anthony Batiste also looked like he was running the wrong protection scheme.

LG - D'Anthony Batiste: Batiste was OK for the game, he got in a few good run blocks and didn't give up anything in pass protection. He did have the one miscommunication with Petitti mentioned above, but he's looking like he could get onto the practice squad.

C - Al Johnson: Johnson played a solid game. Once again, he had some great blocks when he was asked to pull, especially when he got out on the edge with Petitti. But at this point he looks to be the backup, as Gurode just seems to be playing a little better.

RG - Cory Procter: Procter also had a good game, and he's improving when he's asked to pull. It's the one area where he still occasionally doesn't get a good block, but when going straight ahead or getting to the 2nd level he's solid. He also had little problem with pass protection.

RT - Jason Fabini: Fabini had an average game with one glaring error. The Cowboys didn't run to his side much, but he did an OK job run blocking when they did. In pass protection, on occasion he doesn't hold his block long enough leading to some late pressures, but not sacks. But only Romo's quick feet saved a sack on Fabini's worst play of the night. The 49ers brought a blitzer from Fabini's side, but Fabini didn't take him on and basically passed him off like he thought he had a RB helping to his side. But the back was on the other side and the defender had an open run straight at Romo. Luckily, this wasn't Romo's blind-side so he managed to step up and out of danger. Fabini didn't have quite the game he did last week, and put himself in the danger-zone again for a roster spot. He did manage to recover Romo's fumble.

RB's: All the RB's had good days toting the rock and are starting to use cut-backs to much greater advantage. JJ and MB3 are also doing a good job in picking up stray pass rushers, keeping Bledsoe from any real danger. MB3 did a great job on a screen pass.

Jamaica Rector: What a fabulous night for Rector, who is making it almost impossible for Parcells to keep him off the roster. Skyler Green could be in real trouble, the emergence of Rector and Hurd, combined with his lackluster returns and unforgivable fielding of a punt on the 5-yard line, are making his grasp on the roster tenuous.

Tony Romo: While Romo was certainly stuck with awful field position most of the night, he didn't look as crisp and accurate as he did the other two games. Not to say he had a bad night, and the INT wasn't his fault, he did have some off-target passes and was unable to generate the drives he has been. Nothing to worry about though, he looks to be a very capapble backup to Bledsoe at this point. At least he finally took that hit to the back that Parcells discussed in the press conference earlier this week.