4 challenging questions Kyle Shanahan, 49ers must answer in training camp

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Shanahan called off the remainder of 49ers offseason workouts before training camp begins in late July, but there are still some glaring questions.

Only head coach Kyle Shanahan knows why he elected to abbreviate and cancel the back end of two key offseason events on the San Francisco 49ers’ 2022 schedule, organized team activities and mandatory minicamp.

OTAs were supposed to last three weeks (they lasted two), and minicamp was supposed to be three days (it ended up being two).

Perhaps Shanahan saw everything he needed to and felt the extra on-field work wasn’t necessary. Maybe he wants to guard against the high number of injuries that have seemingly plagued his squad in recent years.

You’d have to ask him, though. And he’d have to honestly answer.

At any rate, the next major event on the Niners’ calendar will be training camp, which doesn’t kick off until late July. And while the break will be nice for the players, there are still some burning questions Shanahan and Co. have yet to answer.

Let’s take a look at some of those.

49ers training camp question No. 4: Can Jake Brendel cut it at center?

Ideally, veteran Pro Bowl center Alex Mack wouldn’t have retired this offseason, especially as San Francisco transitions from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the second-year pro, Trey Lance.

Yet Mack did retire, and San Francisco did relatively little to ensure it had a seasoned replacement.

For now, signs are pointing to the journeyman backup, Jake Brendel, being Mack’s immediate replacement. Brendel received all the first-team reps at center during OTAs and training camp, and the fact the 49ers kept him as Mack’s primary backup for all of 2021 bodes well for the former’s future.

However, Brendel also has just three regular-season starts dating back to his undrafted NFL debut in 2016. It’s one thing to hype up a replacement player as being adequate enough to start.

It’s another to see that come to fruition, especially at a position Shanahan views as extremely vital.

If this winds up being the case, the Niners better hope Brendel is equal to the challenge. There aren’t too many other options available.