SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers will not divulge if right guard Alex Boone will start Sunday against the Chicago Bears after playing as a reserve Week 1 following his holdout. Joe Looney got the start, as he did in all four preseason games.
"(They are) both fine players and we’ll make that decision as the week goes on. And we might have already made it. But, again, we wouldn’t need to give that information out," a cryptic Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday.
Looney spent the entire offseason working with the first team offense and showed improvement while getting the reps. Sunday was the first time Boone had not started since taking over the job in 2012, ending his streak of 38 consecutive starts, including the postseason.
"I think they wanted to make sure I could see the speed of the game. Things hadn’t changed," Boone said. "Obviously, I feel a lot better getting a week of practice underneath me. Seeing the game. Getting a couple plays in the game. But at the same time I always feel ready to play football."
During the week of practice leading into the win over the Cowboys, Boone had the unique experience of working with the scout team offense, going against the starters on defense. Teams usually limit starters going against one another to early in training camp. Once the season starts, practices consist mostly of first-team-on-scout-team work.
"It was awesome. How many guys can say they got to practice against guys like Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Patrick Willis, guys like that? It’s always fun to go play with them," said Boone. "Whatever I can do to help this team get better."
The 49ers offensive line didn't perform particularly well in the preseason and wasn't the dominant unit Sunday that's been one of the league's best since Boone became a starter. However, the 49ers still averaged 4.2 yards per carry and allowed just one sack to the Cowboys.
Week 1 can be a strange week. Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli dialed up some schemes along the defensive front the 49ers had not been expecting forcing the offensive line to adjust on the fly. San Francisco was also breaking in a new center in Daniel Kilgore and right tackle in Jonathan Martin. Both played well in their debuts Sunday.
The Bears' 4-3 defensive front represents a different test. The veteran group, led by Jeremiah Ratliff (10-year veteran), Lamarr Houston (fifth year) and newcomer Jared Allen (11th year), is seasoned as Chicago looks improve after finishing with the second-worst scoring defense in 2013.
"I think that when I see a guy that’s played 10 years, that he’s crafty. He knows a lot more than I know. So I got to be careful against them," Boone said. "If you look around their whole defense...they’re crafty, they’re smart, they know what to do."
Starting right tackle Anthony Davis did not practice Wednesday as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury for a second-straight week.
The Bears defense allowed 193 rushing yards in their 23-20 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday, allowing 5.8 yards per carry. Last year, they were worst in the NFL allowing 5.3.
STARTING CORNERS SIDELINED WEDNESDAY
After spraining his big toe in the first quarter Sunday, starting left corner Tramaine Brock was not on the practice field at the start of Wednesday's practice. Opposite starter Chris Culliver was, however, he was not in pads and was limited to working out with a trainer. Culliver suffered a concussion in the first quarter against the Cowboys and has yet to be cleared through the league's concussion protocol.
With both starters' status up in the air, it could present another significant challenge to the team's backups, Perrish Cox and Dontae Johnson, who both played well against the Cowboys. Cox had an interception while Johnson broke up two passes.
The Bears bring one of the league's most dynamic receiving duos in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. But both suffered injuries and are reportedly day-to-day. Marshall tweaked an ankle while Jeffery is dealing with a hamstring.
Chris Cook, who was inactive for the 49ers Sunday, will play against the Bears but appears unlikely to start over either Johnson or Cox. He was in a scout team uniform at Wednesday's practice, indicating he will not work with the starters.
Harbaugh said rookie nickel corner Jimmie Ward did not suffer a concussion in the Cowboys game after his helmet flew off in a collision late in the fourth quarter. Ward was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.
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