The San Francisco 49ers signed offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2017. In getting the deal done, all signs point to Kilgore being the team's starting center heading into training camp.
We don't know the full details of the contract, but committing to a player through 2017 (as much as a team commits to a player with non-guaranteed contracts), but odds are pretty good this deal is not to have him around as a reserve. I suppose he could eventually end up at guard, but as Occam's Razor tells us, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume he is the 49ers next starting center.
In light of that, based on the final 2013 game release, here is a general depth chart for the interior offensive line heading into 2014:
Adam Snyder was the primary utility guy across the entire offensive line. He primarily filled in at guard, but could handle tackle work in a pinch as well. When the 49ers lost Staley and iupati at one point, Snyder moved to left guard, Alex Boone moved to left tackle, and Joe Looney filled in at right guard. It was limited action for Looney, but it was a chance to show what he had learned over the previous year and a half.
The 49ers signed Ryan Seymour off the Seattle Seahawks practice squad on December 10. He finished out the season on the 53-man roster. He was inactive, but the team obviously saw something in him previously to decide to add him to a coveted 53-man roster spot. Thursday afternoon, while discussing the Kilgore contract, I mentioned how the interior OL competition would get interesting between Snyder and Looney. Someone mentioned the tweet to Seymour, and I got a simple but always powerful emoticon response!
It was kind of funny, but we can't ignore him in the competition for a roster spot. He will compete with Adam Snyder and Joe Looney for whatever opportunities pop up. The likely loss of Jonathan Goodwin means a roster spot opens up. It doesn't mean an offensive lineman will fill it, but the opportunity is there. Given the 49ers use of extra blockers in their heavy sets, there are some opportunities for these linemen to show their stuff.
Snyder is the stable veteran presence, but I have a hunch he finds himself in a tough competition this summer. The 49ers could save upwards of a million dollars if they release Adam Snyder. The number goes down based on the player who replaces him on the roster, but even still, it's likely savings in the $500,000 to $600,000 range. That is big money for the pro-rated hit of a signing bonus on a big extension.
I still think the 49ers grab one more interior offensive lineman to compete with this group. I don't think it happens before Day 3 of the draft, and even then, I see a sixth or seven round pick getting the call. That would provide the 49ers with competition in training camp, and if the player can't break through, a potential practice squad body.