The Titans shocked the NFL when news came out that Jake Locker would likely return to starting this week at quarterback. However, instead of Locker's usual center he will have to deal with Brian Schwenke who (though talented) hasn't played a down in an NFL regular season game. I am surprised the Titans are comfortable with that.
Where will Schwenke hurt the Titans?
Rob Turner had his issues, but one of his strong suits was calling blitzes. He was a great communicator, and presnap he seemed to help out rookie Chance Warmack a lot. If the Titans were dealing with the Rams or Jags this wouldn't be a major issue, but against the 49ers it could be a game-changer.
The 49ers have excellent linebackers, and they have the ability to attack any where at any time. If the 49ers decide to bring double A-gap pressure often, will Schwenke be able to pick that up and adjust? If not the Titans are taking a serious risk putting Locker in that situation.
Where will Schwenke benefit the Titans?
At Cal, Schwenke was never a mauling center but he did an excellent job winning with quickness, nastiness, motor, and technique. If Schwenke has been paying attention and really digging into his playbook, it will show up on Sunday in the running game.
The Titans will probably try to help Schwenke on running downs by using combo blocks with Warmack and Levitre. If Schwenke and his guards are executing well it will show up with big holes on the interior line.
Another place where Schwenke will shine is blocking backside on power play. The Titans have had a ton of success pulling a guard and running behind him, but when it hasn't worked it is because Turner isn't quick enough to block down on the backside DTs. If Schwenke can collapse the backside on those plays, then the Titans running game could get a boost.
In the end...
I'm not a huge fan of this move because I think Locker could use consistency and familiarity for his quick return to the field. I do see where you could argue that not having someone in his lap every play could also help, and I couldn't really argue that point as long as Schwenke proves that he can be a clear upgrade.
I have always thought if the Titans felt the contest was even, the advantage should go to the rookie so that the interior can start gelling. With that in mind, I expect Schwenke to be an upgrade but he will make some mistakes. The question is, can the Titans and Jake Locker survive the mistakes he makes?