49ers free-agent target No. 1: Center J.C. Tretter
Let’s pay some attention to what head coach Kyle Shanahan said in a recent press conference about Pro Bowl center Alex Mack and whether or not retirement is on the table:
"I’ve talked to him here and there. I’ve got a good idea. I’ve been in touch with him throughout the offseason, through his wedding, through his honeymoon. He’s in some other country right now, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. Same as last time, I’m going to leave that up to Alex, but I’ve got a pretty good idea. I think you guys do too."
While not definitive in one way or another, some are assuredly pointing at this and the fact Mack isn’t at organized team activities as a combined sign the 36 year old is about to retire.
If so, the 49ers have options. But they’re not great ones.
The Niners could move Daniel Brunskill over from right guard to center, but that creates a void at right guard. Combined with Aaron Banks now poised to start at left guard, having two new starters at both guard spots isn’t ideal.
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San Francisco could insert an undrafted rookie, Dohnovan West, into Mack’s stead. Or they could go with last year’s backup, Jake Brendel, who has a total of three NFL starts dating back to 2016.
Neither is truly ideal.
What might be ideal, however, is for the 49ers to go after still-available veteran free-agent center J.C. Tretter, who started 16 games in each of the last five seasons for the Cleveland Browns and has both the reliability and experience Shanahan prefers for this particular position.
Going after the 31-year-old Tretter would certainly make a would-be Mack retirement that much easier to absorb, and the former would also be inserted into the starting lineup right away.