All eyes will be on the 49ers’ offensive line on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
This is a veteran offensive line, except for rookie center Marcus Martin, who has taken over for injured Daniel Kilgore. And that leads us into today’s 49ers Mailbag question. . . .
How much of last weeks O-line disaster fell on the rookie center Martin? (Vic Vasquez)
Martin was responsible for some of the problems, but certainly not all of them. Every member of the 49ers’ offensive line, as well as quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the running backs had a hand in the issues.
Here’s a look at each of the Rams’ eight quarterback sacks:
No. 1, first quarter: Defensive end William Hayes beat right tackle Anthony Davis around the outside. Kaepernick could not step up because defensive tackle Aaron Donald beat right guard Alex Boone up the middle and running back Carlos Hyde did not impede him as he moved up the center of the formation on a pass route. Martin was double-teaming the other defensive tackle.
No. 2, second quarter: Left guard Mike Iupati did not peel off Eugene Sims, who Martin was blocking, to pick up linebacker James Laurinaitis on a blitz. Laurinaitis got the sack, but the protection across the board was sub-par.
No. 3, second quarter: The Rams showed blitz off the right side of the 49ers’ line. It looked as if Anthony Davis was expecting Frank Gore to pick up Hayes. But Gore ran a route into the flat, which drew Laurinaitis, who looked as if he were going to blitz. Davis did not block anyone and Hayes got the uncontested sack.
No. 4, second quarter: The Rams brought seven pass-rushers and the 49ers had six blockers in protection. Kaepernick had a chance to get the ball out to Crabtree on a post pattern but he held onto it and was sacked.
No. 5, second quarter: Donald got pressure up the middle by knocking Alex Boone on his rear end. And Robert Quinn got around Joe Staley for the sack-fumble.
No. 6, second quarter: This was a four-man rush, and Kaepernick had the opportunity to step up in the pocket and dump it off to Hyde. The man Martin was blocking, Sims, got the sack but only because Kaepernick ran into him as he tried to escape the pocket.
No. 7, third quarter: Donald lined up over Iupati, but Iupati pass him onto Martin as he slid over to help out Staley. Donald got past Martin to drop Kaepernick for a 9-yard sack.
No. 8, fourth quarter: Martin engaged with Michael Brockers. Martin looked to be in good shape, but Brockers abruptly shed Martin’s block and got into the backfield to sack Kaepernick for a 4-yard loss. Iupati could have supplied help, but he went moved over in a futile attempt to help Staley with Quinn, who made an outside move.
So while nobody on the 49ers’ offensive line played anywhere near a perfect game, Martin was really only responsible for the Rams’ final two sacks of the game.