SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Let there be no mystery, there's at least one starting job on the San Francisco 49ers offense that won't be subject to a heated preseason competition.

Yes, it's safe to use ink to write the name Joe Staley in the spot reserved for the left tackle.

"When I came here, the only guy that really had a starting job was Joe Staley," offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said. "Nothing is handed to anybody really. And Joe would be one of the ones to say so but Joe has earned it over the years. He is in his 10th year and he's played high-level football for the 49ers. It wasn't handed to him, he earned it."

As for the rest of the offensive line, there's apparently plenty of earning that still must take place before the 49ers settle on a starting five. While the offensive line has actually been one of the few places with stability in this training camp -- it's been the same five with the first unit in every practice and the preseason opener -- Flaherty estimates that about eight of his players are vying for the five spots. So what might seem fairly settled now is subject to change at a moment's notice.