Four weeks into the season and the 49ers’ offensive line is still a work in progress.
San Francisco has given up 11 sacks in three games and its running game ranks 30th in the NFL – averaging just 69.7 yards per game -- so the Niners are looking for answers.
One possibility: Adam Snyder taking over for Chilo Rachal at right guard.
In the victory over the Bengals on Sunday, Snyder replaced Rachal for much of the second half, and it’s possible he could step in for Rachal in Sunday’s game against the Eagles at Philadelphia.
When asked who will start Sunday, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told Eric Branch of the Chronicle: “To be determined. There’s a competition there.”
In the opening half against Cincinnati, Rachal was flagged twice for holding and once for a false start and allowed a sack, according to Branch.
Harbaugh wouldn’t point to just one individual as the problem on the line, saying, “It’s more of a unit thing” and he’s looking for ways the entire offensive unit can get more consistent.
While Harbaugh wouldn’t name names of poor performers, he indicated players have been told about their failures and the need to improve.
“They hear from us coaches,” he told Branch.
To be sure, Rachal isn’t the only culprit in San Francisco’s failure to open holes or protect quarterback Alex Smith. As detailed by Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, the entire line and running backs contributed mistakes against both the Bengals and Cowboys.
But after Snyder took over from Rachal Sunday, the offensive line improved and Smith led the team on a long drive in the fourth quarter for the game’s only touchdown in a 13-8 victory.