No, 49ers aren’t going to sign a center to fix O-line woes

Daniel Brunskill #60 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Daniel Brunskill #60 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The 49ers have had issues with the interior of their offensive line in training camp, particularly at center, but Kyle Shanahan isn’t looking to add anyone new.

If you were hoping the San Francisco 49ers would be looking towards NFL free agency to solve their notably concerning interior offensive line issues on full display during training camp, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s press conference on Friday likely disappointed you.

Or you could spin it as Shanahan keeping the team’s intentions cloudy.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Niners training camp, Shanahan pointed out full confidence in the players they currently have on the roster who have been tasked with trying to fill the void left by now-retired Pro Bowl center Alex Mack.

The question about whether or not San Francisco would explore the thin free-agent market for a veteran center stemmed from what Shanahan has been trying to do in camp thus far: employ a tryout rotation with linemen like Daniel Brunskill, Jake Brendel and others, albeit the first two in primary competition for first-team duties.

The results haven’t exactly been great, and the O-line’s interior is easily seen as one of the 49ers’ main weaknesses heading into 2022.

And despite Shanahan having a perceived preference for veterans at this spot, he also pointed out that giving chances to on-roster players would be just as vital.

“You don’t know if an O-lineman can play until he gets his ass kicked in a game,” the head coach responded.

Shanahan mentioned he wants to see some of his interior linemen gain some more experience during preseason games. With Brunskill, however, the Niners feel comfortable knowing he played a bulk of 2020’s bouts at center in the wake of injuries there.

Brendel, Mack’s primary backup a year ago, has just three regular-season starts dating back to his league entry in 2016.

49ers crossing off J.C. Tretter from NFL free agency watch list?

One of the potential free-agent replacements mentioned in circles whom San Francisco could consider is former Cleveland Browns veteran center J.C. Tretter, still available on the open market after starting all but one regular-season game for Cleveland over the last five years.

Surprisingly not signed, the 31-year-old Tretter would likely be a downgrade from Mack but an upgrade over Brunskill and Brendel with little doubt.

Read More: 4 reasons to be concerned about Niners O-line

Perhaps San Francisco considered reaching out to Tretter at some point but ultimately decided to go with on-roster options. Or, as the conspiracy theorists might note, the 49ers may not want to be revealing their hand just yet.

Things could change in the preseason, though, especially if either Brendel or Brunskill wind up disappointing during exhibition games, leading to the hard truth the Niners do need a better-caliber option than what’s currently on the roster.

Who knows if someone like Tretter is still available by that point, though?

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