Jordan Devey doesn’t have a name plate above his locker, but he has a starting spot on the 49ers’ offensive line.
Coach Jim Tomsula said Tuesday that Marcus Martin at center and Devey at right guard will start on the offensive line. Devey’s promotion is somewhat of a surprise because he has been with the team only two weeks and has yet to start an exhibition game. Martin or rookie Ian Silberman started at right guard in the first three exhibitions, and neither excelled at the spot.
“He’s just a guy that started numerous games in this league,” Tomsula said of Devey. “There’s a calmness about him in there playing the game, and I’m talking about in himself. He’s a good football player. He’s a smart guy, came in there and really got it quick.”
Devey, 27, is in his second year in the league after going undrafted out of Memphis in 2013. The 49ers acquired Devey from New England for tight end Asante Cleveland on Aug. 18.
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Devey played both guard spots for the Super Bowl champions last year, appearing in seven games and starting four. The scouting service Pro Football Focus said Devey was responsible for one sack, three quarterback hits and nine hurries, and they rated him No. 70 among NFL guards..
I always want to play football wherever it’s at, however it is. That’s my job – to be able to play whenever they want me to, but it’s up to the coaches.
49ers right guard Jordan Devey
Silberman started at right guard Saturday at Denver, but Devey replaced him just before halftime for the struggling first-string offense’s only positive drive.
The 49ers gained 72 yards on seven plays – thanks largely to two big scrambles by Colin Kaepernick – and Phil Dawson capped the drive with a 41-yard field goal.
“He was very composed, and like I said on Saturday, the two scrambles that I had, he allowed me to step up through the pocket and make those plays,” Kaepernick said of Devey. “Our interior, both our guards, our center, did a great job and our tackles ran the ends past. So (I’m) excited to see what they can do.”
Martin also noted Devey’s performance on that drive.
“From Play One, it got scrappy, and I like that,” said Martin, who started eight games at center last year. “He was going after people. He was trying to blow somebody’s head up. And anybody that plays aggressive and nasty like that, I want them playing next to me.”
But Devey played only nine snaps against Denver and 23 snaps in the previous game against Dallas.
Instead of a name plate like his teammates, Devey’s locker is marked by a piece of athletic tape bearing his name scrawled in Magic Marker.
Now he must quickly create chemistry with four other linemen: Martin, Erik Pears at right tackle, Alex Boone at left guard and Joe Staley at left tackle. Tomsula wasn’t sure if that group would start Thursday’s exhibition finale against San Diego at Levi’s Stadium, and the revamped right side of the line could get some snaps against the Chargers.
He’s a smart guy, came in there and really got it quick.
49ers coach Jim Tomsula on Jordan Devey
“I always want to play football wherever it’s at, however it is,” Devey said. “That’s my job – to be able to play whenever they want me to, but it’s up to the coaches.”
Said Staley, the unofficial captain of the unit: “It’s not like we’ve played five years together. But at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your play on the football field. ... And that continuity and all that stuff is sometimes overblown.”
The 49ers likely have not finished shuffling the line. Center Daniel Kilgore, who will miss the first six games on the physically-unable-to-perform list, will get a shot at regaining his starting spot.
Kilgore, who fractured an ankle last year, said he received a positive checkup last week and will be out of his protective boot in a week.
“I’m healing now, and I’ll be back,” he said. “I’ve got six weeks to prepare and get it safe. And I’ll be back after six weeks.”