Posted: 2:00 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013
By and large, the statistics in this post are coming from Pro Football Focus. They have signature stats that are more conventionally comprehensible (like how many QB hurries a lineman gives up). In addition, though, PFF provides weekly "grades" that are overall numbered scores. You can read about their grading process HERE. Positive numbers are good while negative numbers are bad. Anything above +1 is a really good game; anything below -1 is quite a bad game. The grade is a composite grade of different smaller grades (like "pass blocking"). I will typically highlight the strengths and/or weaknesses of a particular performance by looking at these composite grades.
This week, in keeping with my theme of examining the statistical showings of "under the radar" players, I want to take a look at the o-line's performance. Typically, I think of the offensive line on any Football team as the most underrated part of a team, even though it may be the most important unit on the field. Our line, which is one of the most respected around the league, has been a bit of a mixed bag this season. They started out a bit slow. So far, over the course of the season, Football Outsiders has them ranked 25th in the league at run blocking with a 3.34 adjusted line yards (you can follow this link to see not only the stat, but some brief explanations as to how they reach this number and the links to the really heavy explanations). Not exactly what we were expecting before the season started, I think. They've been a bit better this season at pass protection, ranking 15th, having given up 13 sacks at an adjusted sack rate of 6.7% (follow the same link for further explanations of the stat).
Recently, though, we have seen an upswing in o-line play, and I thought this last game was no exception. The stats, however, seem to indicated more of a mixed bag showing, with our Tackles playing exceptionally well and our Guards struggling a bit more. Center Jonathan Goodwin was about as average as possible, according to PFF, which isn't particularly surprising, given that he has been average to just slightly-below average all season. That's our Goodwin! /cue sitcom laugh track and cut to ‘80s theme song montage.
Joe Staley: 4.8 Overall PFF Grade, 1 QB Hurry, No Penalties
Going from left to right, we start with our blindside tackle, Joe Staley. Mr. Staley had a fantastic game in just about every way possible. His only bugaboo was giving up one measly QB hurry. In breaking down the 4.8 overall grade, PFF assigned him a 2.6 grade in run blocking (which is stellar) and a likewise great 1.7 grade in pass blocking. This has become expected of him, though. His tenure with the 49ers has been fun to watch. In particular, though, he has been stepping up to the proverbial plate the last three weeks, scoring a 4.8 overall grade against the Cardinals, a 3.7 against Houston, and a 6.2 (!) against St. Louis. During which three weeks, he has given up 1 sack and 2 QB hurries.
Mike Iupati: -1.7 Overall PFF Grade, 1 Sack, 1 QB Hurry, No Penalties
Mr. Iupati, however, had a much worse game, giving up 2 total pressures on the QB in 32 passing plays. This is a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 94.5. The majority of Iupati's poor -1.7 overall grade came from a pass blocking grade of -1.7. He also scored a -0.3 in run blocking and a 0.3 in penalty grade.
Alex Boone: -1.2 Overall PFF Grade, 1 QB Hit, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Penalty (Offset)
Like Mr. Iupate, Alex Boone had a disappointing showing. His pass blocking actually graded out positively (0.3), despite giving up 2 QB pressures. Because each play is evaluated and graded, I presume this means he had a consistently good day pass blocking, but did make a couple of mistakes. Mr. Boone's weakest showing on the day was in running blocking, where he scored a -0.8, which isn't too bad, and a bit expected. In fact, save for his 3.1 run blocking game against the Colts, Boone has been about slightly above average in run blocking on the season. His real strength has bee, I think, in pass blocking. Especially since he seems to work so well with Anthony Davis, who, in previous years, would have to compensate for unstable guard play next to him.
Anthony Davis: 4.8 Overall PFF Grade, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Penalty
Speaking of Anthony Davis, he had a great game for the 49ers against the Cardinals. Raking up the same 4.8 overall grade that Mr. Staley did, Mr. Davis came about it a bit differently. Frankly, he dominated in the run game, scoring an outstanding 4.1. Wow. He coupled this with a strong game in pass blocking, scoring a 1.2 after giving up only 1 QB hurry.