- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As San Francisco 49ers right guard Alex Boone's holdout rolls on -- the two sides purportedly growing further apart by the day -- Joe Looney is getting more comfortable in his place.
And the third-year player with all of four career games under his belt has the public support of his coach and quarterback.
"We believe in Joe Looney," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We believe we can win with Joe Looney. Again, Joe Looney is working every day to improve his game and that's what the unit is doing, all 11 and key backups."
Added quarterback Colin Kaepernick: "He's constantly improving. He's doing very well for us. He came in last year for us and played well. He's someone that we have confidence in and the more time he's on the field, the more confidence we have."
At 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, Looney is five inches shorter but 15 pounds heavier than Boone, a two-year starter. And with right tackle Anthony Davis still recuperating from offseason shoulder surgery (he will do individual work in practice Tuesday), the right side of the 49ers' offensive line has been in flux with Jonathan Martin starting in place of Davis.
Many saw improvement in Looney's game from the first exhibition to the second.
"There's always stuff I can get better at doing, but yeah, I thought I played a better game at pad level," he said, crediting O-line coach Mike Solari.
"When I first got here, coach [Greg] Roman told me, 'To get better at football, you have to play it.' So being in there, being in the preseason games, helps everybody out."
Looney said he has not spoken to Boone but hoped to pattern his game after his technique and physicality on the field.
"Boone's a great guy, a heck of a player and I want to do a great job, just like he did," Looney said.
"Whoever's out there, the coaches expect them to play championship football and help win games."