OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- “Got high on a few plays.”
That was Jim Harbaugh's note on Joe Looney's preseason debut at right guard. Looney played 24 snaps Thursday in Baltimore, the most memorable coming on a third-and-short run near the Ravens goal line when he could not contain nose tackle Brandon Williams, who spun free of Looney's block to tackle tailback Jewel Hampton for a one-yard loss.
Looney appeared to come out of his stance too soon and lose his balance. Pro Football Focus gave him a -0.7 grade for the game.
“Yeah, it's something I need to work on,” Looney said Saturday. “Coaches have told me what I need to work on, and I'm going to continue to get better at it.”
Those comments came at the same time word came out that teams are interested in trading for Alex Boone, who would be in Looney's spot at right guard but who is holding out for a better contract. That's not a surprise. Boone is a very good guard and may be a better tackle. There are plenty of teams that have a weak link at guard or tackle. Some, like the Buccaneers and Giants, have problems at both.
The question is whether the 49ers will budge one way or another. The right side of the offensive line, where Looney and the team's current swing-tackle candidate, Jonathan Martin, were operating, was weaker than the left against the Ravens. But they weren't awful, either. Said Harbaugh: “It was good work and things are fixable, are correctable. Look forward to getting that done between our first game and our second game.”
Looney struck the same theme. If getting too high in his stance was his issue Thursday, he has plenty of opportunities to work on it. He faced Williams – who is a squat 6-1, 335 pounds – on Saturday and will do so again today and Monday. That's one of the benefits of the ongoing joint practices – players get to face different opponents who may draw out their weaknesses.
“It's great to get that experience and compete against great players,” Looney said. “The whole Ravens defense is that way. They're giving us great looks out here on the practice field. It's going to be great for us.”