Local writers know 49ers left tackle Joe Staley and right guard Alex Boone as two of the friendliest, most approachable athletes in Bay Area sports. Right tackle Anthony Davis, in contrast, has a low-energy vibe. Left guard Mike Iupati is so painfully shy around reporters that he practically sprints out of the locker room when approached. Center Jonathan Goodwin is like a friendly neighbor, a normal guy who happens to weigh 318 pounds.
The one common thread among the 49ers' starting offensive linemen is that they are pretty laid back — until the game starts.
Between the white lines, the goofy Staley engages in skirmishes with opposing defensive linemen, and Davis is known for the occasional after-the-whistle uppercut. In addition to being commended as one of the NFL's top lines this year, the Forty-Niner Five have acquired a reputation for nastiness.
“This offensive line is dirty,” said Eric Davis, who appears on NFL Network and works as a commentator with 49ers play-by-play man Ted Robinson on KNBR.
“You have to be. You don't want choir boys on your offensive line. You want big, mean, burly guys who take offense when someone hits your running back, or hits your quarterback.”
As Anthony Davis said, his voice barely above a whisper: “I'm just like that. I'm like that all the time. But I can't help it.”
The 49ers don't want him to help it. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and offensive line coach Mike Solari preach hard-nosed play along the line. When the Niners drafted Iupati and Anthony Davis three years ago, one of the traits that sold general manager Trent Baalke on the two players was their aggressiveness.
“They know they got guys up front that always had potential to be physical,” veteran backup lineman Leonard Davis said. “But then when we're sitting in those meeting rooms and we're going over offensive schemes and all that, they remind us, 'Hey, we want to be physical. This is the kind of team that we are. That's our identity.'”