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49ers centers: Better, worse, or same in 2017?

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A position by position look at the San Francisco 49ers’ roster, and whether the team is better, worse, or the same as the 2016 roster. Other positions: QB | RBWR | TEOT | OG | C | LB | CB | S

The San Francisco 49ers face a lot of questions surrounding their roster in 2017, with the new front office and coaching staff bringing numerous changes. It is going to take some time to figure out where this team stands. The team was incredibly active in free agency, and followed that with plenty of work in the 2017 NFL Draft.

With that in mind, I thought we would take a look at each position, compare it to various points last year, and consider whether the unit is better, worse, or the same compared to last year. The table includes the current group of players, and then a list of players on the 90-man roster for the first preseason game, the players on the Week 1 53-man roster, and the players on the Week 17 53-man roster. The idea is to compare this year with last year across the board. The roster changes from August to December, so I’m including three separate markers just to provide an overall view of the position last year.

We move on to the center position.

Center changes, 2016-to-2017

Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Jeremy Zuttah Daniel Kilgore Daniel Kilgore (Zane Beadles)
Daniel Kilgore Marcus Martin Marcus Martin Alex Balducci
Tim Barnes Alex Balducci Alex Balducci (PS) Daniel Kilgore (IR)
(Zane Beadles) N/A N/A Marcus Martin (IR)

Kyle Shanahan has found a lot of success his last two stops thanks in part to center Alex Mack. The Cleveland Browns early 2014 offensive surge ran into a wall in part because Mack got hurt. The Atlanta Falcons eventually acquired Mack, and he was a key cog in their offensive success. They had plenty of big weapons, but Mack solidified some things on that offensive line.

Daniel Kilgore replaced Jonathan Goodwin at center for the 49ers in 2014, but he has struggled to stay on the field. He appeared in seven games in 2014, and five games in 2015. He played 13 games in 2016 before an injury put him on IR the final three weeks.

This offseason, the 49ers acquired Jeremy Zuttah in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were set to waive Zuttah, but the 49ers worked a deal with them to swap sixth round picks. Zuttah is no Alex Mack, but he is likely the guy Shanahan is hoping can attempt to fill that role. He missed some of the offseason workout program with a lower leg injury, but he will likely enter training camp as the No. 1 center. Now we have to see what this might mean for the 49ers new blocking scheme.

The 49ers made one other modest addition in signing Tim Barnes. He is competing for a backup role at this point. Given that Daniel Kilgore has some guard experience in his background, I’m not entirely sure what will happen with Barnes as roster cuts approach. If Shanahan thinks he is better suited in the zone-blocking scheme, maybe Barnes ends up with a roster spot over Kilgore?

Poll

Are the 49ers better, worse, or the same at C in 2017 as compared to 2016?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Better
    (1001 votes)
  • 1%
    Worse
    (17 votes)
  • 14%
    Same
    (174 votes)
1192 votes total Vote Now