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What to make of the 49ers re-signing C Jake Brendel

Rohan Chakravarthi
Mar 15, 2023 at 3:25 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers ended the questions around their center debacle when they re-signed starter Jake Brendel to a four-year deal worth $20 million on Tuesday, locking up a key player from their offensive line a season ago.

Brendel, 30, reportedly received more money from the New York Jets, but elected to remain in San Francisco on a four-year deal, providing the 49ers with a capable option at center, a position the organization has heavily valued during the Kyle Shanahan era.

Here are the key implications of Brendel's new deal with the 49ers.

49ers in C market

The San Francisco 49ers were definitely involved in the center market, as they placed an interest in multiple players at the top of the market at a position that didn't see the significant numbers that some analysts expected, signing in the $6-8 million per year range, as opposed to the $8-11 million range.

However, the 49ers were unable to secure a deal with several players, as Ethan Pocic and Garrett Bradbury re-signed with their original teams on three-year deals worth $18 and $15.75 million, respectively.

Bradley Bozeman, a scheme fit with guard/center flexibility, was another player linked to the 49ers, but the Panthers center elect to re-sign with his organization as well.

Both players would've been good signings at their prices, but the 49ers instead went back to their original option after striking out on the top centers, signing Brendel to a four-year deal that essentially boils down to a two-year, $8 million deal.

Brendel contract

As stated above, Brendel's four-year deal is essentially a two-year contract worth $8 million, as the 49ers center earned that amount of guaranteed money on his new contract, which is expected to be backloaded.

In doing so, the 49ers have the flexibility to move off Brendel after a season or two, while also likely keeping his 2023 cap hit fairly low, allowing the team to maximize their championship window.

However, does this deal lock Brendel into being the 49ers starting center in 2023?

While the veteran may be the favorite after a solid 2023 season, the 49ers will likely give 2022 sixth-round pick Nick Zakelj a shot at the position to evaluate his current status, amongst other options.

If Zakelj is able to beat out Brendel for the starting job in 2023, the 49ers know they have a center capable of playing to the veteran's level in 2023, which provides well for their future outlook.

If the Fordham product can't beat out Brendel, the 49ers have a starting center who has several years of experience in the Shanahan system, while continuing to develop their potential center of the future.

But, Brendel didn't seem to be San Francisco's first option, and it's somewhat surprising that the 49ers couldn't beat out other teams for an upgrade at the position, given the relatively cheap costs of the top-tier options in free agency.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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