Ninjames' note: Throughout the offseason I'll be profiling as many players currently under contract with the 49ers. So, that's about 80 players, I'll be giving them a look. It's not going to be a look at how these players fit into the 2010 49ers, I believe Fooch will be handling a 53-man roster projection throughout the offseason. This is something that has a loose definition as far as each articles go--I'll find something to say about each player. The Alex Smith article may focus less on his arm and how he plays because I think we all know plenty about that. So while I can't tell you what every article will look like, I can tell you that I'll be doing this at least three times a week, though probably more if I can, so I get through the 80 players before the season begins.
When people think of the 49ers offensive line and who the best player on it is, many will think of Joe Staley, the team's starting left tackle. Any time somebody voices these thoughts I often express my desire to separate their head from their shoulders. Staley is just fine, a good player, a funny guy and someone I'll be profiling later on this offseason, but the man I'm looking at with this first profile is starting center Eric Heitmann. Read past the jump and I'll lay it on you.
Heitmann is also a master of ballroom dancing, as
pictured above, notice the fine form.
Eric Heitmann was drafted by the 49ers in the 2002 draft in the 7th round with the 239th overall selection. Heitmann spent his college career at Stanford University, and was voted first team All-American in 2001. A three-time All-Pac 10 selection, he played his whole Stanford career at the guard position, and did a fine job of it, at that.
For the past couple seasons, Heitmann has been the best player on the offensive line. I've always felt that he's been more than a little underrated, and I've been known to get a little heated here with folks when he doesn't get the credit that I believe he deserves. Heitmann has been a starter for the team since his rookie season at a few positions, and a full time starter at center since 2006 after playing well at both guard positions as well. In 2005, Heitmann worked hard with Johnny Parker, a strength and conditioning coach so he could get bigger and more powerful. He received a 4-year contract extension and continues to be the teams starting center.
In late 2006, Heitmann suffered a broken tibia in his right leg and had surgery in the offseason to fix it. He made a full recovery, starting all 16 games in the 2007 season and was the team's most consistent offensive lineman, earning the team's Bobb McKittrick award for commitment and determination to the game and recovery.
He is a player who is incredibly intelligent, pulls well, commands the offensive line like the best of them, and is physically sound in all aspects of his game, at 6'3'', 318. So we know of Eric Heitmann the player and what he has brought and should continue to bring to the team--what of Eric Heitmann the man?
At a young age, Heitmann's mother got him into piano lessons and it immediately stuck with him. He got into football around the same age and from then on it was a focus on football, with playing the piano being a distant second. He's very talented as a pianist, and from the little that I've heard, Heitmann is also an excellent composer. His music borders on the classical and the epic, the only piece I've heard felt like it would be perfect for a movie.
Heitmann uses his piano playing and his composition as an emotional release. He's been quoted as saying "Yeah, I use it as an escape. It's a good way to kind of release frustration or any emotions you're feeling at the time." and I definitely agree with him. I'm a big music guy, myself, some of you know that the only thing I'm as passionate about football is, is music.
He isn't positive about where he'll go with his music once his football career is over, but he has expressed a partial desire, saying he'd love to get into a recording studio at some point. Maybe not for profit, but for something he could show his kids--and hopefully his fans. At age 30, he's had himself a pretty good football career with the 49ers, but with his piano, he can obviously do that long after he retires from the NFL.
Heitmann is passionate about his family life, and from what I can tell, his wife is expecting a baby. I'm sure they'll enjoy his music.
So that's about all I have for you on Heitmann. He's a very smart guy who can articulate very well. He's a natural leader on the offensive line and a very underrated center in the game today. A good piano player, a good composer, and probably a guy I could hang out with and talk music and musical theory with if I wasn't such a 49ers fanboy.
On Thursday, I'll be taking a look at either Ahmad Brooks or Michael Lewis, perhaps at the same time of 11 AM--perhaps not.
Here's a video of Eric Heitmann from CSN Bay Area, the external link is right here.