49ers could be poised for disaster if Jake Brendel injury is serious

The Niners may end up paying for not investing more heavily in their offensive line this offseason, especially if Jake Brendel's injury is more serious than it currently seems.
San Francisco 49ers center Jake Brendel (64)
San Francisco 49ers center Jake Brendel (64) / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Jake Brendel is missing OTAs because of knee tendonitis, which isn't good for a player of his age. Are the 49ers' contingency plans enough?

If the San Francisco 49ers are worried about veteran center Jake Brendel's knee injury, they're not showing it.

Brendel, who'll turn 32 years old early in the upcoming 2024 season, is currently missing organized team activities because of knee tendonitis, and the Niners are wisely opting to rest him for as long as possible so he can be fully recovered in time for training camp.

During the first week of OTAs, head coach Kyle Shanahan shed only modest light on the injury and the veteran's absence by saying, "He has some knee tendonitis, so we don’t expect to see him in OTAs. He could tough through it but we’re going to be smart with him on it."

Without getting too deep into the medical details, or pretending to be medical experts, it's obviously a wise move to hold Brendel out.

That said, is it something that potentially plagues both the center and San Francisco's offense into the regular season? After all, knee issues for linemen on the wrong side of 30 years old aren't good.

What are the 49ers' emergency plans in case Jake Brendel is injured?

Shanahan and the 49ers no doubt are exploring other options. So far during OTAs, journeyman lineman Jon Feliciano has been taking Brendel's spot during practices.

Yet that opens up something of a void at right guard, potentially forcing the Niners to rely either on an underachieving two-year veteran, Spencer Burford, or a rookie in fourth-round draftee Dominick Puni to play right guard.

Puni was one of only two linemen San Francisco drafted last April, the other being Jarrett Kingston in Round 6, and it added former Michigan center Drake Nugent as an undrafted free agent.

Considering just how vital centers are to Shanahan's system, having to rely on a rookie probably isn't the most ideal of circumstances, especially if Brendel is banged up and with the risk of Felciano potentially suffering an injury, too.

For a team with nothing less than Super Bowl aspirations, it's not ideal.

Best-case scenario, Brendel returns fully healthy and isn't plagued by any serious knee issues, thereby leaving Feliciano at right guard and the crop of rookies to serve as reserves in year one.

But, as any fan knows, best-case scenarios rarely come to fruition.

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