NFL players this season are wearing new, more form-fitting uniforms by Nike.
For many, the uniforms are a fashion upgrade.
For 49ers starting right guard Alex Boone and his 6-foot-8, 300-pound body, they are not.
“I hate them,” Boone told the Wall Street Journal. “They are built for thin guys. It makes me look like I have big, old love handles.” Or, as he said his wife told him, “It looks like you ate a small baby.”
But nobody in San Francisco – with the exception of perhaps Mrs. Boone – cares what big, old Alex looks like in his uniform this season, because Boone is looking great on film.
The only new starter on the offensive line this season, Boone won the position in training camp and has been a force in the 49ers’ 3-1 start to the 2012 season.
Though there were some doubts that Boone – who had always played tackle – was too tall to play guard, Boone has answered those doubters by consistently turning in terrific performances.
Against the Jets this past Sunday in the Niners’ 34-0 victory, Boone had a key block on Colin Kaepernick’s 7-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and also had big blocks on touchdown runs by Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter later in the game.
In the first game of the season, a 30-22 victory over the Packers in Green Bay, he was graded the top-performing 49ers offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus in his very first NFL start at guard.
So far, Boone has excelled at pulling to make blocks on the outside, and at pass protection.
No longer are there any questions about how the third-year player from Ohio State will mesh with the rest of a very strong and veteran offensive line. He’s doing quite well, thank you.
“Well, those questions haven’t really been coming up,” said 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh this week. “I think he’s proven that he’s a fine, talented football player, no matter how tall he is. Question is answered there, I’d say.”
The conventional wisdom has always held that offensive tackles, on the outside of the pocket, should be tall, but that centers and guards needed to be a bit shorter to be effective on the interior of the line.
Harbaugh, however, didn’t buy that line of thinking in the offseason. He saw Boone’s athletic talent, strength and nasty demeanor and saw a guy who could step in for departed free agent Adam Snyder as a possible upgrade at the right guard spot.
“He’s tall, but he’s got great ability to bend and, yeah, uncork, arm length,” Harbaugh told reporters this week. “A lot of good positives there as well.”
Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman says the combination of Boone and tackle Anthony Davis gives the team an aggressive combo on the right side of the line.
After watching Boone pound on the Packers’ B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett in the season opener in Green Bay, Roman knew the 49ers have a new star.
“We were thrilled to see the instinctive things he did,” Roman told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “He played physical, he played to his peronsality, which is aggressive, passionate, old-school nasty. And he had a lot of fun out there. Boone loves playing football. He’s a beauty.”