49ers storyline No. 3: Jake Brendel solidifying himself as starting center
In the wake of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack’s retirement earlier this month, San Francisco appears poised to hand the starting job to a journeyman backup, Jake Brendel.
Here’s what Kyle Shanahan had to say about Brendel following Tuesday’s practice:
"Jake made our team last year as our backup center and if you do that, you better believe that all backup guys have the ability to start. And then when they get that opportunity, how long can they do it for? But we had a lot of confidence in Jake last year to make the team. And if Mack would have ever missed a game or something, we wouldn’t have hesitated and we would have gone into that game very confident with him."
The 49ers added some possible replacements for Mack in the NFL Draft and thereafter earlier this offseason, grabbing rookie linemen Spencer Burford and Nick Zakelj on day three before inking undrafted free agents Dohnovan West and Jason Poe.
Yet Shanahan has historically avoided using first-year players in this role, meaning Brendel will likely have to lose the spot rather than win it.
If that trend continues into training camp, it’ll be a good sign the job is his this season.