The San Francisco 49ers lost more players to injury in Atlanta and several positions were rotated like musical chairs, including the offensive line. Zane Beadles, who was already filling in for injured Joe Staley at left tackle took over at center when Marcus Martin left the game with an ankle injury. Beadles, who has never played center in a live game, impressed both his head coach and his quarterback.
Beadles has taken snaps at center in practice and has always held the title of ‘emergency center’ in the case that both Daniel Kilgore (IR) and Martin were to go out. This was was the case in Atlanta, and he filled in. That would mean Beadles has played three positions in three weeks which in and of itself is impressive. The fact that he didn’t have any issues with miscues or botched snaps brings his performance up to another level.
Head Coach Chip Kelly mentioned that the team went with Beadles over rookie Alex Balducci at center partially because of his game experience, but added to give him and his teammates credit playing out of position at times and stepping up to the challenge.
Colin Kaepernick commented on the performance of Beadles after the game:
A lot of players have to move around, someone like Zane Beadles who played three different positions in three weeks for us. It’s great to have a player like that who’s flexible and can move around like that, especially his first year in the offense. So we have to have players that are able to do that, able to move around and make plays for us and be able to accommodate the situation.
When asked if Beadles and OL John Theus played better than he thought they would, he replied:
I wouldn’t say better than I thought, they’re both very talented players that’s why they’re on this team. Once again for Zane [Beadles] to be able to play three different positions on this offensive line and play at a very high level really speaks to his ability as a player. [John] Theus coming in, stepping up and holding his own as well, I think we have players that can step in we just have to put it all together to get a win.
When I asked if it felt any difference with the musical chairs on the line he elaborated even more:
No, I think our offensive line has done a great job being able to move and being flexible with the positions they’re playing. Being able to pick up calls and know exactly what they’re doing pass protection and run game wise, so we have great confidence in them.
Beadles spoke to the media after the game in Atlanta.
Have you practiced at center much?
Nah. Here and there just to stay sharp on it, but other than that no.
Have you ever played center in an organized football game?
Never in a game. I played it a little bit in practice here and there but never in a game.
Was it a little bit daunting to do it?
Um, I don’t know if daunting is the right word. I’ve always taken the approach that I’m going to be as available and as flexible as I can be. In this league, to be an offensive lineman, the more you can do, the more valuable you are and I’ve always taken that approach.
These last two weeks have tested you to the extreme.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, yeah, but like I said that’s something I pride myself on is being able to play both positions and you know, go out there and play the best I can.
You said you liked the space of playing tackle, guard is more crowded and now at center with snapping the ball, how much does that change things?
You know, things happen fast at center. Guys are right on your face and you don’t have as much space in there. Things are right on top of you but luckily for me, I’ve been snapping here and there to stay sharp on that for a little while now and, just go out and play.
If versatility is value, you’re becoming one of the most valuable players on the team.
(laughing) I’m not the one ask about that I guess but, like I said the more you can do in this league, the more valuable you are and you’ll always have a job and I want to be there for my team, I want to be there for my teammates and that’s the bottom line.
There were a lot of guys in new positions tonight because of injury.
Yeah, it’s tough. I don’t know that I’ve ever been a part of a season like this where as many guys have been hurt, but I think we have a lot of guys on this team that take that approach that there’s a job to do and we’re going to go do it to the best of our ability. We’d like to be winning more ball games but I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Of the five players that had game ending injuries in Atlanta, Marcus Martin is the only one that has not received the injured reserve designation. If he is able to get healthy enough to play in Los Angeles, which is a homecoming for the USC Football alum, Beadles will most likely return to the LT spot while Andrew Tiller revisits his spot at LG The 49ers claimed OL Josh Allen off of waivers and promoted Alex Balducci from the practice squad to add a few options to game day availability.