Just a few short seasons ago, the 49ers had a couple of powerful brawlers at guard. Mike Iupati and Alex Boone were physical, dominating run blockers who were key components of a fine offensive line.
Now, the 49ers have Zane Beadles at left guard and Brandon Fusco at right guard. But maybe not for long.
In Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco’s interior blocking was a major weakness, leading to too much pressure on quarterback Brian Hoyer and not enough holes for running backs Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida.
Beadles, in particular, was especially ineffective. Beadles, who has assumed a starting role in place of the injured Josh Garnett, was given the worst grade of any guard in the NFL through Sunday’s games by the analytic website Pro Football Focus, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Beadles allowed one sack (which led to a Hoyer fumble and a Carolina touchdown), a quarterback hit and four quarterback hurries Sunday against the Panthers. Said head coach Kyle Shanahan, to Branch: “I think it (the performance) was up and down. He did some good things in the game.”
But also, some bad things.
Now, as the 49ers prepare for Game No. 2 Sunday in Seattle against the Seahawks, it’s possible that Beadles will be replaced by veteran Laken Tomlinson, the former Detroit Lion for whom the Niners traded just before the season. Shanahan said Tomlinson will compete against Beadles this week for the starting role Sunday.
“We’ll look at that every week,” Shanahan said, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “We did last week, too. We’ve got a group of guys on our roster, they’ll battle. They had three days to do it last week. They’ll have three days to battle and we’ll put out (on) Sunday whatever we think our best lineup is.”
As Barrows noted, Tomlinson — a first-round pick by the Lions in 2015 — was held out of Game 1 because he was still learning the system. Now he could be the starter in Game 2.
The 49ers-Seahawks game is scheduled to start Sunday at 1:25 p.m.