Ah, the old, "We're not bad. No, really," defense.
By any conventional measure, the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line has struggled this season. Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore can't find a hole, and a quarterback who is only trusted to throw the ball small distances can't stand upright long enough to dump it into the flat.
None of that is stopping left tackle Joe Staley from speaking out against the criticism. The former first round pick wants you to know the problem is not just with him or his unit.
"Contrary to everyone’s belief, we don’t suck," Staley said. "We’re good players and we play well. It comes down to everybody executing. It takes all 11 guys. It doesn’t take five offensive linemen to make a running play go.
It reminds us a little bit of center Mike McGlynn making a similar assertion about the Birds' line right around this time last year, only a little less strongly worded. Of course, we all remember how that wound up -- the right side of line crumbled, and became one of the primary contributing factors to the total pass protection breakdown toward season's end.
No matter what Smiley wants to say about it, the 49er line has not been effective so far this year. Their backs are averaging 2.5 yards per carry, second worst in the NFL, and Alex Smith has been sacked 11 times, tied for the fourth most.
This could be a big day for Jim Washburn's wide nine.
>> Joe Staley on Niners offensive line: 'We don't suck' [SFGate.com (via PFT)]