Matt Maiocco is reporting that Eric Heitmann recently underwent a surgical procedure on his neck that is likely to sideline him for a second consecutive season. The surgery took place four weeks ago and was performed to repair a ruptured disk. According to Heitmann's agent, the surgery generally has a six month recovery period, which would take us into the end of November at the earliest.
Heitmann had not been medically cleared to practice up to this point and now we know why. Apparently the pain he was feeling prior to the surgery is going away and he's already starting to feel better. The question isn't so much whether he'll play for the 49ers ever again but if he'll play football again. He's always seemed like a tough guy but he's gone through a variety of injuries over the years. He is a free agent after the 2011 season and this injury would likely spell the end of his time with the 49ers. They could very well bring him back at a reduced rate, but if they're happy with David Baas, a free agent signing, and/or developing some of the younger talent, I'd be surprised if he plays again for the 49ers.
The more pressing concern for the 49ers will be the center position in 2011. Baas was likely a high priority before, but I'd imagine he'll be even more so with this update. Adam Snyder has been handling most of the snaps during these "Camp Alex" workouts so that adds value as well. Additionally, undrafted rookie free agent center Chase Beeler joined the 49ers workouts today. As a center at Stanford who has worked with some of the 49ers coaching staff, I'd imagine he could very well end up getting a shot with the team. I'm not saying he's suddenly the next center, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was brought to training camp and given a long look as a depth option in 2011.
For now, we wish Eric Heitmann the best of luck in his recovery. If he can battle back to a level that I thought was incredibly underrated, all the better.