The 49ers head into the 2023 offseason with 25 players (21 unrestricted, four restricted) entering free agency. Throughout the offseason, we’ll highlight each player and their case. Today, we’ll discuss one of the more pivotal positions on the 49ers offense.
Jake Brendel, C, 30
For better or worse, the 49ers have found ways to gain production from journeymen on the offensive line. The team builds in the trenches through the draft and usually has someone who can hold down a position for an incoming rookie.
Last season, the 49ers braced for the loss of Laken Tomlinson with the draft selection of Aaron Banks. After one year, that has looked like a shrewd move. Tomlinson struggled in his first year in New York, and Banks showed promise moving forward.
When it comes to Brendel, his career consisted of three career starts in the NFL. Chris Foerster was brought in as the offensive line coach and had a connection with Brendel in Miami.
The 49ers have struggled to find consistency at the center position. Weston Richburg was hand-picked, but struggled to stay healthy. Alex Mack was solid in 2021. The center has a big part in the success of this offense, particularly in the run game.
Brendel played in all 20 games for the 49ers. According to PFF, Brendel allowed ten hurries and 14 pressures in total. When you consider his 1,035,000 million dollar price tag, that’s bang for your buck. PFF credited Brendel with one sack allowed on the year (Week 15 in Seattle).
What’s next for Brendel? He’s an unrestricted free agent after his first season starting at center. If there is one drawback on Brendel’s season, it’s the 12 penalties called on him. Still, Brendel’s play will gain interest in free agency, especially from any offense running a Shanahan-style offense in 2023.
Brendel will find a new home next season for a center-needy team running Shanahan’s system. The 49ers seem to have a replacement in mind with Nick Zakelj. Credit the 49ers for gaining value from Brendel, and credit to Brendel for making the most of his opportunity.