San Francisco 49ers

49ers notes: Chryst sees O-line progress, wants starting five by preseason game 4

Brandon Thomas (63), who played left tackle at Clemson, is among those competing to start at right guard for the 49ers
Brandon Thomas (63), who played left tackle at Clemson, is among those competing to start at right guard for the 49ers AP

SANTA CLARA -- Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst said the 49ers want to settle on five starters along the offensive line sometime in the next three weeks. The team has been looking at several combinations in practice with the center and right guard in flux.

"Somewhere right after that first preseason game (on Saturday) but before the final preseason game," Chryst said when asked when he’s like to see the line settled. The team’s preseason finale is Sept. 3 against the Chargers.

The offensive line seemed overmatched early in training camp. But Chryst said he's seen progress in the last few practices. He was asked if he feels like the right "pieces" are in the building now.

"At the start of camp, two plays out of five you think you have the right pieces," he said. "Then you get to this part of camp and you're thinking, maybe, seven out of 10 plays you think you've got the right pieces. But you're trying to (get) to every snap you think you've got the right pieces. And I think that's the value of these reps we're getting in."

The starting five Saturday in Houston likely will be, from left to right, Joe Staley, Alex Boone, Joe Looney, Marcus Martin and Erik Pears. However, both Brandon Thomas and rookie Ian Silberman have gotten snaps with the first-string offense at right guard. In those instances, Martin has moved to center -- where he started eight games a year ago -- and Looney has come off the field.

His own man -- Arik Armstead said he was flattered by veteran Darnell Dockett's lofty praise last week but is remaining humble as he tries to climb up the 49ers' steep defensive-line depth chart. Dockett said he felt Armstead would be better than his ex-Cardinals teammate, Calais Campbell, who is similarly sized and considered one of the NFL's top 3-4 defensive ends.

"Calais is an excellent player," Armstead said. "But I'm my own person. And I have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to get. I learn from other people but I don't want to be like anyone else."

With defensive linemen Quinton Dial and Kaleb Ramsey (shoulder) out with a minor injury in recent practices, Armstead's snap count has increased. He's mostly been playing left defensive end with the second-team unit.

That's also the spot Dockett plays, and Armstead said he's been watching the veteran closely and asking questions.

"Technique things, moves and how to set up (opponents)," he said. "The guy's been playing 11 years, so he's got a lot of knowledge."

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at