49ers' Alex Boone reverses field, switches to left guard

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Alex Boone could not decide last year whether he was a Jim Harbaugh apologist -- the offensive lineman was the former San Francisco 49ers coach’s staunchest defender in the locker room, saying Harbaugh was “like a brother to me” -- or Harbaugh’s biggest critic -- Boone told HBO's "Real Sports" this spring that Harbaugh wore out his welcome and, “you just want to kick his ass.”

Of this, though, Boone is sure: he’s just fine with the move from right guard, where he was a mainstay the past three seasons, to left guard.

At least, that’s what he said in a public setting Tuesday.

“It’s great,” Boone said. “It’s different, obviously, [after] playing next to Anthony [Davis] all those years, now you move over play next to Joe [Staley]. Both great tackles. Footwork’s a little diferent, handwork is a little different, but at the end of the day it’s come along real well.”

Boone is slated to replace three-time Pro Bowler Mike Iupati at left guard, even if Boone has purportedly fashioned himself a tackle. And no, Boone did not lobby to move out to right tackle to replace the retired Davis, he said.

In fact, he said he did not know why he did not lobby to bump out to right tackle.

“I just do what the coaches tell me,” he said.

According to offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, Boone moving to left guard optimizes the flexibility of the Niners' O-line since Boone could conceivably play three positions -- right guard, left guard, left tackle.

“So, creating versatility in any offensive line, swing guys, guards that can play center and centers that can play guard … that’s all good,” Chryst said. “But, yeah, it is fluid. Especially, we haven’t even put the pads on.”

Pads come on this afternoon.

But in the first three practices of camp, tempo and getting to the line of scrimmage in a quicker fashion have been points of emphasis for the offensive line. Last year, the Niners’ eight accepted delay of game game penalties were tied for the most in the league, with the St. Louis Rams and Washington.

And their 35 accepted delay of game penalties from 2011 through 2014, when Harbaugh was coach, were the most in the NFL. Tomsula had the offense breaking the huddle with 22 seconds remaining on the play clock Saturday night.

“We just know that we’ve got to break the huddle a lot faster if we want to win some games,” Boone said.

“We obviously took a long time last year to get plays off and that was a problem and I think everybody knew that was a problem. It pissed a lot of people off, including the offensive line. So for this offense to get rolling, get moving, it’s completely different [to practice breaking the huddle early] but at the same time, I love it. You’re just going. You’re not thinking, you’re just moving and you’re doing what you're supposed to do.”