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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Brendel is Quietly the Center of Attention

Dec 30, 2022 at 9:49 AM

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Heading into training camp the Deebo Samuel contract situation dominated the 49ers headline. Rightfully so, Deebo is the tone-setter for the entire team. A story that got significantly less attention was whether or not former All-Pro Center Alex Mack would return to the 49ers this season.

With uncertainty surrounding the most important position on the offensive line, speculation began to roam amongst fans if the team would use a draft pick on a center or spend money in free agency to address the potential void if Mack decided to retire. The last thing that most of the 49ers Faithful believed was a viable option was the former undrafted free agent and 49er backup Jake Brendel taking command of such an important position to the team's offense. Good thing the 49ers brass felt differently about Brendel.

Jake Brandel has stepped in and more than silenced all of the skeptics. Despite posting elite athleticism traits at the 2016 NFL Combine the former 3-year Captain at UCLA went undrafted. Brendel signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys that season before being released. He then latched on as a backup with the Miami Dolphins for the better parts of the 2016 through 2018 seasons. In Miami, current 49er offensive line coach Chris Foerster, who was with the Dolphins at the time in the same capacity, noticed Brendel's potential. Brendel had brief stints with the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos in 2019 before signing with the 49ers in February 2020. Brendel opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID.

Brendel's stellar play has earned him a Pro Bowl alternate nod this season. The much-deserved honor is a testament to Brendel's hard work and belief in himself throughout what was shaping up to be a journeyman career up to this point. In his first full season as a starter, he earned this distinction and brought stability to the interior of the 49ers offensive line that many felt could be a potential weak spot. In addition to the aforementioned loss of Alex Mack, LG Laken Tomlinson left in FA as well this offseason. Brendel not only seized the opportunity for himself but has played an integral role in making sure second-year LG Aaron Banks and rookie RG Spencer Buford are playing in lockstep along the 49er's interior.

Kyle Shanahan's offense is known for its complexities and nuances. A key cog in making sure that the proper blocking assignments are executed in the run game and that the quarterback has the proper protection upfront in the passing game is the center position. For this year's 49ers Jake Brendel has put the offensive line in all the right spots. As the team gears up for the postseason run which will be the culmination of a season that began with questions and doubts about his position, Jake Brendel is set to continue to quietly dominate as the center of attention.
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