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Jeremy Zuttah is the 49ers most overlooked offseason addition

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Kyle Shanahan’s recent past suggests the center position is particularly critical.

The San Francisco 49ers had a busy offseason this year, overhauling both sides of the roster via free agency, trades, and the draft. We’ve looked at all of the additions, but not all of them are as firmly on our radar as others.

The 49ers trade for Jeremy Zuttah has gotten its share of analysis, but at times I feel like I overlook the move. When I am listing out offensive line transactions, I include C Tim Barnes, OT Garry Gilliam, and OG Brandon Fusco, but it takes me an extra second to remember the 49ers traded for Zuttah. Maybe it’s the fact that it was a trade that makes it easier to forget.

On Tuesday, Bleacher Report NFL analyst Brent Sobleski took a look at the ten most overlooked additions this offseason. His list included Zuttah, due in large part to Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers head coach has found considerable success as an offensive play-caller, and a big reason for that the past few years has been having a capable center. Well, more specifically, having Alex Mack. The Cleveland Browns unexpected success in 2014 was predicated in part on Mack’s play, and the Atlanta Falcons improved play was in part based on the addition of Mack.

Sobleski had this to say about the Zuttah signing:

Center serves as the linchpin for Shanahan's offensive system and sets the tone in his zone-heavy scheme. Not only is he expected to make all of the line calls, but his block often influences where the running back decides to cut.

While Zuttah is no Alex Mack, he has been a capable starter. The Baltimore Ravens were set to release him, but found a willing trade partner in the 49ers. And there could be a great fit given Zuttah’s history in Baltimore:

The Ravens originally acquired Zuttah in 2014 to play in the same system as Shanahan's, as Gary Kubiak was Baltimore's offensive coordinator at that time. Shanahan previously served on Kubiak's Houston Texans staff from 2006-09, including two seasons as offensive coordinator.

The 49ers offense added a lot of talent this offseason. Guys like Pierre Garçon, Brian Hoyer, Kyle Juszczyk, Marquise Goodwin, and others will be plenty important to the group developing this season. But Zuttah could prove to be the most important if we are to take anything from the recent past.