Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/10/12
They say you win football games in the trenches — San Francisco has proven that old adage this season. The 49ers general manager Trent Baalke has built his football team the right way, focusing on the offensive and defensive lines first, then building around those pieces. His defensive line was the best in football last year, and this year the offensive line has followed suit. In the 2010 draft, Baalke’s first in charge of player personnel, the 49ers spent two first round picks — No. 11 and No. 17 overall — on the offensive line. They took left tackle Anthony Davis out of Rutgers and left guard Mike Iupati out of Idaho. Right tackle Joe Staley has been with the team since being drafted in the first round in 2007. Center Jonathan Goodwin was signed as a free agent last year after starting for the Saints for three years and right guard Alex Boone was a tremendous find as an undrafted free agent in 2009. Those five players have done an excellent job at giving Alex Smith time to throw. They’ve allowed just 57 total pressures on the season according to Pro Football Focus — good for fourth best in the NFL. Sometimes Smith doesn’t help himself out much in the pocket, waiting too long to throw, but his offensive line is a chief reason for his success in the last two seasons. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has done a great job building an offense around his skill set, but his offensive line deserves just as many accolades for their protection. The 49ers also lead the NFL in rushing despite a lack of elite players at running back. Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon have each increased their average yards per carry by over a yard compared to last season, and backup Kendall Hunter has increased his from 4.2 as a rookie in 2011 to 5.0 this season. The 49ers are averaging a league-best 5.6 yards per carry and 168.6 yards per game. Gore has had a solid career in the NFL, but at 29-years-old, his production was expected to drop. Instead he’s seen a new life this year — once again, thanks to his offensive line. A lot of credit goes out to Harbaugh and co-offensive line coaches Tim Drevno and Mike Solari. Davis and Iupati have seen exceptional development in their young careers while Goodwin and Staley are playing at a higher level than they’ve ever seen during their careers. Boone went undrafted out of college, but he’s been the sixth best guard in the NFL this season according to Pro Football Focus. The 49ers may not have the undefeated record that the Atlanta Falcons do, or the recent Super Bowl victories that the Giants have, but with the best offensive line in football, they must be taken seriously. Last year, their defense stood heads and shoulders above their offense. This year, the offense has caught up, the 49ers could still be playing in February. Photo via Facebook/SanFrancisco49ers
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

USMNT are big favorites against Canada

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

‘Actor’ Todd Gurley wants to make ‘billions’

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

David Price donates $300K to build field for special needs kids

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Johnny Manziel dropped by agent

Michael Irvin: Cowboys should save Manziel

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

The merits of trading Blake Griffin to the Hornets

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

Could the Marlins contend in 2016?

Report: Browns to cut Manziel in March

Browns rip Manziel in statement

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker