49ers roster 2023: Can Jake Brendel repeat his efforts from last year?

San Francisco 49ers center Jake Brendel (64)
San Francisco 49ers center Jake Brendel (64) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The 49ers shocked a few by rolling with Jake Brendel at center after Alex Mack's retirement, yet Brendel delivered in a big way.

A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers were facing a very real danger of veteran Pro Bowl center Alex Mack calling it a career.

Perhaps they knew, though. Head coach Kyle Shanahan alluded to it a few times before news went live, yet the Niners made no significant transactions that would suggest a replacement was on its way.

Instead, once Mack retired, it was a seldom-discussed role player who had never even played a regular-season game with San Francisco.

Jake Brendel.

When did Jake Brendel join the 49ers?

Plenty of 49ers fans never heard of Brendel prior to him becoming an immediate starter in the wake of Mack's retirement.

Originally, he was an undrafted free-agent addition of the Dallas Cowboys back in 2016 out of UCLA and bounced around the league a bit, primarily appearing on practice squads and seeing game action only during the preseason.

Prior to joining the Niners, he had just six regular-season starts under his belt, and they were all with the Miami Dolphins back in 2018.

Singed as a free agent by San Francisco in 2020, he spent his first season on the COVID opt-out list and didn't suit up for the red and gold before turning in a 2021 campaign as Mack's primary backup.

In 2022, he started every regular-season and preseason game for the 49ers.

How good was Jake Brendel in 2022?

Entering 2022, Brendel was viewed as one of the primary weaknesses for an otherwise promising Niners offense.

Yet Brendel ended up proving his doubters wrong, finishing the regular season with just one sack and two quarterback hits allowed on 591 pass-blocking snaps last year, according to Pro Football Focus, who awarded the 30-year-old center with a respectable 64.9 overall grade.

If it weren't for Brendel's 12 penalties against, that grade would likely be significantly higher.

Either way, as a pending free agent entering 2023, Brendel opted to take less money to stay with San Francisco, although the 49ers rewarded him with a four-year contract regardless.

How much are 49ers paying Jake Brendel this season?

Brendel's four-year deal is worth up to $16.5 million with $7.49 million guaranteed, according to Spotrac.

In 2023, Brendel will carry a cap hit of $2.272 million.

Will Jake Brendel be as good in 2023 as he was last year?

Last season marked Brendel's first foray into the world of being a regular starter during the regular season. And the Niners seemed to have faith in him being able to shoulder the load, doubling down on that by rewarding him with a four-year contract.

The right side of the O-line underwent some offseason change, including the free-agent departure of right tackle Mike McGlinchey and the departure of the versatile Daniel Brunskill, who split time at right guard with then-rookie Spencer Burford.

Now, Burford is Brendel's primary to the immediate right, while Colton McKivitz is poised to take over McGlinchey's spot in a manner not unlike how Brendel got his job at center by being a backup for at least a couple of prior seasons.

Brendel will turn 31 years old this season, yet offensive linemen can have a tendency to play well beyond that shaky plateau of 30 years of age.

For now, however, Brendel isn't a worry for San Francisco. He's turned into an asset.

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