The San Francisco 49ers were busy in free agency last week, but one area they did not address was the offensive line. That changed in a hurry on Wednesday, as the team acquired center Jeremy Zuttah from the Baltimore Ravens. The two teams are swapping sixth round picks to make the deal happen.
Zuttah is coming off a season in which he was an alternate for the Pro Bowl. Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 14 center in the NFL. At the same time, our friends at Baltimore Beatdown described him as average in all areas. They are not entirely sure why he made the Pro Bowl. He grades out well at PFF and the line as a whole looks good in various metrics, but the Ravens needed cap space, so they decided to make a move.
That being said, the 49ers clearly have plans for him. Swapping sixths is not a huge deal, but the team likes him, and this is not the first time Kyle Shanahan has brought in a new center. The Atlanta Falcons acquired Alex Mack last year, and he was a critical cog on the offensive line.
Zuttah now joins a 49ers offensive line that has five potential starters in place, but some question marks. Daniel Kilgore has been the team’s starting center the past three years, but injuries have cut short all three seasons. He started 12 games combined between 2014 and 2015, and then started 13 last year before suffering a season-ending injury. Kilgore is signed through the upcoming season, with a cap figure of $1.7 million. Zuttah is due $3.5 million.
Zuttah will compete with Kilgore, but both players also have experience playing guard. Zuttah moved between center and guard for six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Kilgore was a utility guy on the interior of the line his first three seasons. One of them could end up replacing Zane Beadles at left guard, but at the very least, one of these two would end up as a potential utility guy at the center and two guard positions.