Saturday, August 25, 2012
Why 49ers should expect big years from Davis, Iupati
August 22, 2012, 9:52 am SHARE THIS POST
Mike Iupati made the All-Rookie team after the 2010 season. Can he build on that in 2012?
SANTA CLARA -- Offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati are 2010 first-round draft picks who started every game since coming to the 49ers.
And, finally, this spring and summer, they had a regular offseason together.
For the first time, they were able to work on a daily basis with 49ers offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Tim Drevno -- as well as offensive coordinator Greg Roman -- for a two-month period before reporting to training camp four weeks ago.
It was a luxury they did not enjoy last year as the NFL offseason was non-existent due to the lockout.
"Last year, me and a couple other guys were at San Jose (State) training during the lockout," Iupati said. "All of us are here now. It's big. You get coaches coaching you with this and that. Last year, we were on our own, trying to coach ourselves, motivate ourselves."
As a possible result, Iupati and Davis did not maximize their second-year potential. They reported for their second seasons with even less pre-camp preparations than they had entering their rookie years because of the new coaching staff and new offensive system.
The 49ers invested a lot in adding Davis and Iupati. General manager Trent Baalke traded up two spots to select Davis with the No. 11 overall pick. Iupati was chosen No. 17 overall. The two linemen taken after Iupati were center Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh, No. 18) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay, No. 23).
Davis, a right tackle, showed enough promise in his second season that the 49ers never gave serious consideration to moving him to right guard, where they elected to place 6-foot-8 Alex Boone.
Davis can be a dominant run-blocker. The 49ers ranked seventh in the NFL last season with a 5.4 average on run plays to right tackle. Davis was responsible for 9.5 sacks, according to STATS, LLC.
Iupati was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team at left guard after the 2010 season but did not make the kind of noticeable improvements generally expected of a second-year player. He is also known as a mauler in the run game.
On Saturday against the Houston Texans, he was the only starting offensive lineman who allowed a hit on quarterback Alex Smith. Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith quickly beat Iupati with a swim move on a play that resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty.
This season, the 49ers fully expect to receive full dividends from Davis and Iupati as first-round picks because of the large amounts of mental and physical preparation time they've finally been allowed.
Both were asked what were the biggest benefits they derived from their full offseasons at the 49ers' practice facility.
"Working on technique every day with the coaches, and responsibilities in pass protection and the details, and strength conditioning," Davis said. "I feel good. I feel ready to go."
Said Iupati, "Building the camaraderie with offensive line, especially, in communication, the plays, everything. I think we're better off now, especially the running game."