Max Unger struggled as a rookie. He stayed healthy and started 16 games. We shouldn't construe his struggles as failure, but it is equally if not more inaccurate to twist his struggles into an indication of future success. It certainly doesn't damn Unger that he struggled as a rookie, but it certainly would have been better had he not. Succinctly: Rookies struggle. Second-year players struggle less. Not every player changes for the better, but Unger should. Strength grows with age. He looks older and more physically mature in the above photo than he did this time last year, and though that's speculative, it's what we've got.
The first call of business is for Unger to develop the skills to make his talents work. Unger moves well in space. He shows good development finding and squaring and occupying if not overpowering defenders in space. Unger is a spaceman, but throughout 2009, he failed to launch. Haha. Hahahahaha.
Goal 1: Escape defenders and quickly pull on screen passes and zone blocks.
Unger's skill in the second level was undone by a persistent inability to shed defenders. That meant he was late on screen passes and generally ineffective as a run blocker.
Goal 2: Survive the bull rush.
Rob Sims could stonewall defenders. Unger is not likely to duplicate that ability. Luckily, guards enjoy pretty low standards for pass blocking. Unger needs to keep his man in front of him even if he doesn't successfully hold the pocket. Ideally, Unger could stop the defender entirely and give his quarterback a pocket to step into. Given how poorly he showed last season, it would be a marked improvement if Unger could simply stop his defender from plowing through and rushing untouched towards the ball carrier. Unger allowed 5.5 sacks for 35 yards according to STATS Inc. He also had three holds. That is pretty bad for a guard. If he can't hold the pocket, and I don't think he can at this stage, he still must be able to contain the rush.
Accomplishes those two goals and Seattle will be a much better team and Unger a much better guard with a much brighter future.