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NFL Free Agency 2011: Olin Kreutz Or Adam Snyder For Center?

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Reminder, site decorum is back on and barring further developments, will remain on until the first preseason game. One of the names the 49ers have been linked to since the middle of last week is center Olin Kreutz. The now former member of the Chicago Bears has been trying to figure out whether he wants to retire now that the Bears are moving past him. The 49ers reportedly sent him a contract proposal, but now maybe things weren't nearly as advanced as we thought.

The question now is whether the 49ers have a perfectly acceptable solution in the form of Adam Snyder. His NFL center career spans the last four days of training camp so we can't really make a whole lot of conclusions. There have been reports of exchange problems between Snyder and QB Colin Kaepernick. In that regard, it's worth noting Baas had similar issues early on in training camp. Additionally, Kaepernick himself is adjusting to taking snaps under center as opposed to the shotgun style of the Pistol offense.

None of this is to say Adam Snyder is a guarantee to become a serviceable center. Rather, I think it is worth giving Mike Solari and Tim Drevno the benefit of the doubt as to how they might develop Snyder as a center. Or at least giving Solari the benefit of the doubt following his work with David Baas last year. It's easy to forget that Baas had struggled to full develop as a guard and was forced into center duties after Eric Heitmann went down. Will lightning strike twice?

Coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to the media after practice yesterday and did have some comments about Snyder:

On whether he is encouraged by G/C Adam Snyder working with the first unit on the field:

"Yes, on a couple different levels; athletically, snapping ability, quickness, leadership. Right now it's early to know who our leaders are, but he's been displaying a noticeable level of leadership in the huddle, and so far so good."

On whether it is beneficial for G Adam Snyder to have played different positions in the past:

"No question about it. The center is, in most plays and most protections, making calls and understating what every other player on the offensive line is doing."

David Baas wasn't an All Pro center during his one year at the position, but I'd say he was a serviceable replacement for Eric Heitmann. Now the 49ers might get a chance to see if Adam Snyder is a similar serviceable replacement. It would be sort of fitting if he developed into a similar option as Baas given that he faces free agency at the end of this season.

I've got to think we'll hear something from Olin Kreutz today. He indicated he would make his decision relatively soon. My prediction at this point is that he retires. I'm not inside his head by any means, but given the fact that he's pondering makes me wonder if he has it in him to keep going. Once doubt creeps in, one has to wonder if the game is still worth it. We'll find out soon enough.