Stone's move to right side permanent

When you acquire perhaps the best right guard in football, you don't try to make him a left guard, even if that was the position played by the guy he's replacing in the lineup. The 49ers signed All-Pro Ron Stone this spring and immediately inserted him at right guard - even if that meant messing with two positions on one of the NFL's most stable and efficient offensive lines.

Of course, to the Niners, it seemed like the most sensible thing to do when they brought in Stone to replace aging left guard Ray Brown in the starting lineup.

"He looks like a real natural right guard," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said, "right next to his buddy Scott Gragg."

Stone and Gragg started next to each other for four seasons on the right side of the New York Giants line, making Stone a natural fit next to his buddy. And to further validate that the decision was the right one, Dave Fiore - the team's starting right guard the past two seasons - practically volunteered to switch to Brown's old position to accommodate Stone's arrival.

"I've moved around before," said Fiore, who has played every position on the line, including starts at left tackle, right guard and right tackle. "So I feel comfortable being I've changed positions before. I've just got to get used to being on the left side again. Everything will be picked up."

When he arrived in April, Stone said it didn't matter to him which guard position he played.

"(Right guard's) what I've played since New York so, of course, I'll be comfortable there," he said. "But, I mean, I can be versatile just like all the other guys. If they need the whole group to be versatile, then that's one thing I'm fine with."

But the Niners put Stone at right guard from the first practice of their first spring minicamp. He looked like a natural fit there throughout spring practices. Now, as the team approaches the beginning of training camp in two weeks, that move is permanent. And Fiore, for one, thinks it's what's best for line continuity and chemistry.

"We've had a good line over the last couple of years and chemistry is really important," Fiore said. "Ron's coming into the system and he's already worked with Scott, so that's good for him to move to right so he only has to get used to one guy to his left. I've worked with center (Jeremy) Newberry and I've worked with (left tackle) Derrick (Deese) before, so we're just trying to get the best situation, and it looks like this is it."


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