The San Francisco 49ers offensive line has been widely regarded as one of the best in the NFL since Jim Harbaugh took over in 2011. That has definitely been true when it comes to run blocking, but pass blocking has been a different story of late. Through the first five weeks of the season ProFootballFocus has the 49ers ranked 27th in pass blocking.

When you break down the numbers it's not pretty. The 49ers offensive line has given up pressure on 53 or 181 pass plays in 2014, or 29%. The only member of the group to not give up a sack so far has been Daniel Kilgore. The first year starter also have given up the fewest quarterback pressures with only 3.

So what's the problem?

Good offensive line play comes down to 3 simple things: footwork, leverage and teamwork.

As my old offensive line coach used to say every practice to his guys, "It's called football because you play with your feet." When you see an offensive lineman get beat the first thing you should look at is his footwork. Is he moving his feet to stay in front of his man or is he reaching? Does he have a good base or are his feet out of position.

A good example of poor footwork occurred last week when Alex Boone gave up against the Kansas City Chiefs. On this play he gets his feet too far apart which allows Dontari Poe to get him off balance for the sack.

When talking about leverage with the offensive line we often think of staying low and driving the defender. This is true when it comes to run blocking, but with pass blocking leverage refers to the offensive lineman positioning himself so that the defender needs to take the longest route possible to the quarterback or in the direction of his help.

We saw a combination of poor footwork and poor leverage when Joe Staley gave up a sack against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 4. On this play Staley is one-on-one with Connor Barwin. As Staley goes out to get Barwin he is a bit off balance on to his left foot while also gives up inside leverage. The combination allows Barwin to easily push Staley out of the way and have a direct line to the quarterback.

This brings us to the issue of teamwork. Many times the offensive lineman will need to work in tandem to hold off a blitz or defensive line twist. This requires a good amount of communication and experience from working together.

On the 49ers first offensive possession against Philadelphia we saw Colin Kaepernick get sacked as a result of miscommunication between Alex Boone and Frank Gore. Watching the play it appears that Gore is expecting Boone to force the defensive tackle to his outside where Gore can help pick him up, but Boone instead steps out leaving the inside open for a free lane to Kaepernick. (Boone Whiff Philly)

While it often faces the blame from fans, the offensive line is not always the culprit when it comes to pressure. Sometimes that falls directly on the shoulders of the man they are protecting. According to ProFootballFocus, the 49ers offensive line has given Colin Kaepernick an average of 4.21 seconds to release the ball prior to a sack. That is the fourth best total in the league.

A good example of this occurred in the fourth quarter of the week two contest against Chicago. On this play Kaepernick ends up being sacked, but he had two options to get rid of the ball. As Kaepernick hits the top of his drop and begins to hitch he has Michael Crabtree coming open deep on an in route, and Derek Carrier open underneath on a drag. Instead of getting the ball out on time Kaepernick holds onto it too long and is taken down. (Kaepernick holds ball Chicago)

Another example of this occurred in week 4 against Philadelphia. On this play Kaepernick has Vernon Davis coming open deep over the middle but again does a poor job of recognizing the man coming open. This allows Daniel Kilgore to give up a pressure which forces Kaepernick out of the pocket where he then makes another mistake by running out of bounds for a 4 yard loss instead of throwing the ball away. (Holds ball when Davis is open)

As you can see there is no single thing that we can blame for the 49ers struggles in pass protection so far in 2014.

When you watch the 49ers on Monday night try to not watch the ball, and pay more attention to what is happening on the line of scrimmage. The team that is winning there will probably be winning on the scoreboard as well.