49ers rookie OL Nick Zakelj could play center in the NFL

Rohan Chakravarthi
May 13, 2022 at 1:15 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers' rookie minicamp kicked off Friday afternoon, with the 49ers revealing the rookie jersey numbers prior to media availability.

Sixth-round selection Nick Zakelj, who will wear No. 63, spoke with the media on Friday for the first time since draft night and shared a rather interesting fact about his football childhood.

Zakelj is a Cleveland native, drawing a connection to Alex Mack, whom the rookie watched while growing up. Mack began his career as a member of the Cleveland Browns, playing from 2009-2015 before stints with the Falcons and the 49ers.

"I think definitely watching guys like Alex, especially growing up in Cleveland, being drafted, I believe, in 2008," Zakelj said. "So I kind of been watching him since I was very young, and being able to see those great Browns O-linemen—him, Joe Thomas, Mitchell Schwartz—just kind of really being able to see how they're able to affect defenses, move guys from point A to point B, and just kind of being able to hear second hand of how Alex was able to take the game in and kind of what he was able to do. So I think that's something really great to be able to learn from someone like that."

Zakelj addressed the idea of potentially playing center for the 49ers, which was an idea that general manager John Lynch alluded to during his post-draft interviews.

"I think that [playing center] is something that [John] Lynch and coach [Kyle Shanahan] mentioned to me on Draft Day. I kind of worked [on playing center] my senior year, kind of wanting to address my versatility. Kind of being able to play all five positions is something that I want [to show]."

Zakelj played left tackle during his time at Fordham University, but experimented at guard during the Senior Bowl and improved as the week of practices went along.

Additionally, the 6'6, 315-pound offensive lineman tested off-the-charts at the Combine, compiling a 9.74 Raw Athletic Score, showcasing his athletic ability, which is a staple of what the 49ers look for in their offensive linemen.

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