SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 49ers' starting offensive line has been together for roughly a week and a half. But that group's cohesion, one trait a good offensive line must have, isn't an issue according to head coach Jim Tomsula.
"Cohesion, I’m feeling pretty good about. I really do," Tomsula said Thursday. "We’re not standing in a position to defend anything, nor will I. I feel very comfortable with the guys. I feel good about the guys."
With newcomer Jordan Devey starting at right guard, as Tomsula announced days before the preseason finale against San Diego, San Francisco's front five is 80 percent changed from last year's season opener. Only left tackle Joe Staley is playing the same position when the 49ers lined up against the Cowboys in Week 1.
With left guard Mike Iupati now playing in Arizona, and right tackle Anthony Davis having a bigger presence on social media than the playing field in retirement, the 49ers are fielding four new players at new position. Alex Boone, who's made 46 starts at right guard over the last two seasons, is playing left guard. Second-year player Marcus Martin is starting at center after entering 2014 as the back up to Daniel Kilgore. Nine-year veteran Erik Pears is playing right tackle after being signed in the spring to back up Davis.
"We’re looking for the most talented guys we can find. We feel good about our talent," said Tomsula.
After the team made final cuts Saturday, San Francisco traded an undisclosed draft pick for center Nick Easton after releasing Joe Looney, the last member of the 2012 draft class on the roster. Brandon Thomas, a third-round pick in 2014, figures to back up both guard positions, as will Ian Silberman, a rookie sixth-round selection. Trenton Brown played right tackle with the second team all preseason, allowing one quarterback hit 149 snaps during the exhibition season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, a 14-year defensive coordinator with the Cowboys and Bengals, is known for his attacking defenses, which poses a significant challenge to the 49ers' offensive line.
Last season, Zimmer's first as Minnesota's head coach, Zimmer upped the team's blitzing to 28.6 percent of plays, ranking 18th in the NFL. Before Zimmer was there, the Vikings ranked 27th in blitz percentage, according to PFF.
"Schematically, yeah, he's a four-down guy. He's obviously creative," Tomsula said. "But, probably that's one thing that's stood out about a Mike Zimmer-coached defense, or the Vikings, is how hard they play."
Last season, Colin Kaepernick was sacked 52 times, the second most among NFL quarterbacks. That led to the 49ers finishing with the league's 30th-ranked passing attack that averaged 191 yards per game.
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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