SANTA CLARA, Calif. - 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula Tuesday made newly-acquired Jordan Devey the team's starting right guard, for the time being.
"He’s a guy that’s started numerous games in this league," Tomsula said. "There’s a calmness about him in there playing the game, and I’m talking about in himself. He’s a good football player, smart guy. Came in and really got it quick. I like where he’s at."
Devey, (6-6, 320), came to San Francisco in a trade for reserve tight end Asante Cleveland Aug. 18, exactly two weeks before he was named the starter heading into the preseason finale when the 49ers host the Chargers. He started three games at right guard and another at left guard for the Patriots in 2014, allowing a sack, three quarterback hits and nine pressures of Tom Brady, according to Pro Football Focus.
Tomsula has started two different offensive lines through the first three preseason games. Devey, 27, was not among the starters in Saturday's loss to the Broncos. Rookie sixth-round draft pick Ian Silberman got the nod instead, leaving Devey to work with the reserves, where he played just nine snaps.
"You’re talking about reps, game reps. He’s gotten a lot of reps in practice," said Tomsula. "He’s gotten the reps with the scheme we’re running."
With just two weeks before the start of the regular season, Devey will be on a fast track trying to create chemistry with the first-team offensive line, where he's received limited reps in practice.
"It will be really good to have the opportunity, to have the time to get to know each other, and to get a good feel of how each other plays," Devey said. "That’s what I’m trying to do, is to get to know them as individuals as well as players on the field. That’s why we have practice. Get the reps and work it out."
Devey came into the league with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2013 before landing on the Patriots' practice squad the following September. Devey said the news of his trade from his former head coach Bill Belichick came as a surprise.
"It’s always a crazy feeling to walk into the office one day and say they’re shipping you across the country…It’s the name of the game," Devey said. "They had a decision to make and they made it. I’m definitely happy to be here and wear the 49ers uniform."
After losing two former first-round picks in right tackle Anthony Davis and left guard Mike Iupati this offseason, San Francisco is facing starting new players at four of the five positions along the offensive line. Left tackle Joe Staley is the only playing lining up at the same place he started 2014. New left guard Alex Boone is replacing Iupati after spending the last three seasons at right guard.
Second-year player Marcus Martin is Tomsula's top pick at center, after he started the first two preseason games at right guard. Veteran Erik Pears will replace Davis after being signed in the spring to be his backup.
In a very small sample of 18 preseason passing plays, Pears is Pro Football Focus' 200th-ranked tackle (of 208) with a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 81.9.
Once Davis retired, Boone appeared to be the top candidate to play right tackle. After all, Boone played tackle in college and converted to guard after joining the 49ers as an undrafted free agent. He replaced Staley at left tackle against the Rams in 2013 and shut out talented pass rusher Robert Quinn from getting any sacks.
But Boone hasn't gotten any reps on the right side since Davis' retirement, either at guard or tackle. Instead, it will be Devey and Pears manning the right side of the offensive line.
"I don’t have any plans to put (Boone) over there (on the right side), unless you have to. But we created depth at left tackle by Alex going to play left guard," said Tomsula.
But given the shuffling throughout training camp and the preseason, Tomsula may continue to tinker before the start of the regular season, when long-time defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer brings his Minnesota Vikings to Levi's Stadium.
"We’re not going to make absolutes, you know what I mean?" Tomsula said. "People change. We’ve seen that with Jordan too. Where he’s at right now, he’s taken the time, he’s got the system. Love the practice tape. That’s where we’re going."
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