COMMENTARY | The San Francisco 49ers have a star in the making in third year offensive lineman Alex Boone. There are a lot of reasons to like the former Ohio State Buckeye, and he figures to be a staple on the team in years to come. It's not by accident that the Niners' line has had a lot of success with him playing a key role. The Niners are built to run the ball, and Boone is a staple on an offensive line that's been the catalyst to success in that critical area.
1. He's part of a great O-line
San Francisco is ranked No. 2 in the NFL in rushing, while lead running back Frank Gore is fifth in the league in yards on the ground with 601. The line that Boone helps to anchor is a big reason why. They've maintained their steady play despite injuries, and Boone's ability to fill multiple roles is a big part of that.
2. He's a versatile player
Versatility is huge in the NFL, and it's proven to be a strength of Boone's as he shifted from offensive tackle to guard following a head injury to starting guard Joe Staley and has played well in doing so. In an interview with TV 49, he spoke about his level of comfort in shifting positions and ability to adapt to his new responsibilities.
3. Boone knows baseball
In the interview, Boone didn't hesitate to profess his dedication to the hometown San Francisco Giants. He's got a genuine fan interest in the team, and it's easy to see that it's not just a ploy to get fans in the Bay Area on his side. He's a true supporter that knows the game.
4. He's quotable
In addition to several good sound bytes within the interview, Boone was asked earlier in the season about the NFL's new jerseys by Nike. He said in October that he wasn't a fan of the look. "I hate them," he told the Wall Street Journal. "It makes me look like I have big old love handles."
You've got to love the candor.
5. He likes to mix it up
If there's a skirmish, or if head coach Jim Harbaugh needs some backup after a handshake gone wrong, Boone is the guy that will be glad to step in and handle the dirty work. The well-publicized handshake-turned-shouting-match between Harbaugh and Detroit Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz featured Boone right in the middle ready to step in at a moment's notice. The best part about Boone's involvement was not so much the fact that he was defending his coach, but that he gave him a great chest bump just before the famous handshake.
To paraphrase the great Jedi warrior Yoda from Star Wars, Niners' faithful and NFL fans in general should follow the career of Alex Boone with great interest.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Francisco 49ers and the NFL as a Southern California-based sports journalist, editor, and blogger. You can read him on SB Nation and Examiner.com. He is also the Editor and Founder of Sports Out West.
Comments, rants and everything in between should be directed to Michael on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets