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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

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Kyle Shanahan: 49ers comfortable with O-line situation, center battle

Aug 5, 2022 at 10:32 AM--


The odds of the San Francisco 49ers signing a veteran center like J.C. Tretter appear to be dwindling. Barring any injuries, the team seems content heading into the 2022 season with the players on the current roster who are competing for roles along the offensive line's interior.

"We're very good with the people in our building," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Friday. "When you talk about a veteran, which everyone does, that just means it's always a lot easier when you've seen someone do it for 17 games. But no one does do that until you give them the opportunity. We see in practice every day now—we saw it last year—that we have guys in our building who are definitely capable of it. Now it's about getting into those games. We'll try to give them some experience in preseason.

"You show it in practice, but our O-line coach (Chris Foerster) says it all the time. 'You don't know if an O-lineman can play until he gets his ass kicked in a game.' It's going to happen. It's going to happen a lot. And then how do you come back the next week? Are you rattled? Do you kind of hide? Or do you rise to the occasion and learn how to deal with it?

"That's really, to me, what playing O-line is in the NFL, and you don't know that until you give those guys those opportunities. But you've got to believe in what the person's made of. We've got the guys, athletically, and I also think we've got the character in this room to handle those situations."

Jake Brendel and Daniel Brunskill are the top contenders for the starting center job, taking over for retired offensive lineman Alex Mack.

"[Brendel] is the guy who's getting the first opportunity," Shanahan said. "But we also know Brunskill has started at guard for us at a high level. He's played at tackle. And Dan, really anything we ask him to do, he ends up figuring it out. He plays at a level that is good enough to win at, so we've got some good options."

If Brunskill does take the center job, that could leave Spencer Burford fighting for the right guard spot.

"Spencer, he's done a great job," Shanahan said. "He's got all the skill sets to do it, so it's about getting the reps and getting used to going against our D-line and just doing it down in and down out at this level. But he's got the ability to do it at a high level.

"When you talk about Brunskill, Brunskill's been there for the last couple of years. We know what Dan can do. Everyone's got to prove themselves, definitely, but getting Dan a ton of reps isn't always going to help him. He needs to get to the season healthy, as good as he can, and we also want to make sure he's getting more reps at center because that's what he's had less of the past couple of years."

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