The 49ers have been without veteran Alex Mack during the opening days of OTAs, prompting speculation about contingency plans at center.
While San Francisco 49ers All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel‘s absence from organized team activities has garnered a good deal of attention, it might not actually be the most pressing matter head coach Kyle Shanahan has on his slate.
Veteran center Alex Mack, the seven-time Pro Bowler and second-year Niner, also hasn’t shown up to OTAs.
This, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco:
The news won’t help quell rumors about Mack potentially retiring, which has also been a notable offseason discussion already. Yet it’s likely San Francisco knows a lot more about Mack’s status and future than the general public.
It also means the 49ers probably have at least a few contingency plans in place.
Many of those are already on the roster, too, given the majority of offseason moves have already transpired via free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.
So, if Mack is indeed looking to call it a career, let’s break down four on-roster options the Niners may have to replace him this season.
49ers replacement option for Alex Mack No. 4: Jason Poe
Far less a possibility than the others, it’s certainly feasible San Francisco looks to one of its 14 undrafted free agents, former Mercer interior lineman Jason Poe, as someone who could step in and fill the void left by a would-be Mack departure.
Poe, who went undrafted but could have easily been a day-three draft selection, had a pre-draft meeting with the 49ers already, and they must have liked his impressive movement skills.
He was a converted running back who bulked up to play the offensive line.
Granted, Poe has far more experience at guard than he does at center, and the two positions aren’t automatically interchangeable. However, the 6-foot-2 and 295-pound lineman does possess a lot of the positive traits that suggest he could emerge as a decent starter at the pro level.
It might just take a little bit of refinement. Perhaps some luck, too.
The Niners may either have to get desperate to insert Poe into the starting lineup right away, or he’d at least have to wow so much as to be unavoidable, which leads to the next possibility at center.