SANTA CLARA (AP) — Center Marcus Martin jokingly talks up his card playing prowess. New right guard Jordan Devey says he brings a swagger to the locker room pingpong table, noting “I hold my own.”
Now, game playing aside, the biggest question is, can they protect Colin Kaepernick following a season in which the 49ers quarterback was sacked 52 times? Coach Jim Tomsula named Martin and recently acquired Devey to his starting offensive line Tuesday, joining left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Alex Boone and right tackle Erik Pears.
They must strive to develop some continuity in the next two weeks before the Monday night season opener Sept. 14 at home against Minnesota.
“It’ll be really good to have that opportunity and have that time to get to know each other and get a good feel for how each other plays,” said Devey, who arrived Aug. 18 in a trade from New England. “That’s what I’m trying to do is get to know them as individuals and as well as players on the field.”
Devey has played all of nine snaps for the Niners, and they came during Saturday night’s preseason loss at Denver. Tomsula doesn’t expect the first-team offensive line to play together in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Chargers at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers were fortunate in recent seasons to have an experienced O-line that had played years together.
“We have brought in a guy late in the year, so it’s going to be a work in progress,” Staley said. “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. You’re responsible for what you’re doing out there. And that continuity and all that stuff is sometimes overblown.”
Martin and Devey have only lined up next to each other a couple of times.
Devey’s performance during a two-minute drill late in the first half Saturday at Denver provided a glimpse of his ability.
“From play one, he got scrappy and I like that,” Martin said. “He was going after people, he was trying to blow somebody’s head up. Anybody who plays aggressive and nasty like that I want them out there next to me.”
Except when they’re in heated card games such as Spades, Go Fish, Tonk or Gin Rummy.
“I’m not the best. Boone’s pretty good,” Martin said.
They are counting on that camaraderie transferring to the field for a unit that hasn’t even played together yet.
Devey — an accomplished tuba player growing up in Utah — started all of four games last season and wasn’t active during the playoffs for the Super Bowl champion Patriots, and he will make up an entirely new right side of the line after Boone shifted to the left side. Pears replaces Anthony Davis, who retired in June at age 25 following a concussion that lingered late last season.
“As an offensive line I feel we’re putting the pieces together,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “We lost so much. We’re fortunate enough to have other guys who can step up and make plays.”
Joe Looney could be the odd man out, leaving Brandon Thomas as a possible swing guard.
Kaepernick doesn’t sound overly concerned about the group in front of him.
“Even through the preseason with the different combinations we’ve had out there, we’ve been able to run the ball very well. So, I think that will be a strength for us,” he said. “Moving forward, I think everyone’s confident with what we have there.”
Center Daniel Kilgore, who is recovering from a June 13 procedure on his left fibula, which was fractured last October, will be out of his walking boot next week. He was placed on the reserve physically unable to perform list, meaning he is eligible to return after six weeks.
Kilgore married wife Megan on June 27 back home in Tennessee by coming down the aisle in a golf cart. They delayed their honeymoon to Antigua, which will happen instead after the season.
“She put up with a lot,” said Kilgore, now focused on getting healthy. “We’ve got six weeks to prepare and after that six weeks state my case of being able to go out and play.”
Notes: WR Torrey Smith has a knee contusion, DL Darnell Dockett has a rib contusion in which the “crack is in the cartilage, it’s not the bone,” Tomsula said. ... CB Tramaine Brock has a strained hamstring.