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Why decision to return to 49ers was easy for Jake Brendel; Center discusses Javon Hargrave signing

Mar 19, 2023 at 1:38 PM--

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Jake Brendel had suitors in free agency. Several teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, were interested in the veteran center. Ultimately, much to the delight of fans, he returned to the Niners, his NFL home since 2020.

Brendel played 1,252 snaps this past season, by far the most of his career. His 62.9 overall, 71.8 pass-blocking, and 61.9 run-blocking Pro Football Focus grades were each the second-highest of his career.

Despite being in the league since 2016, Brendel played just 250 total snaps before this past season, so he lacks the wear and tear of most 30-year-old offensive linemen. The center still feels like his career is just getting started, and his play is on the rise.

"Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do now with the coaching staff that I'm with and also just the system I'm in, being able to run the [head coach Kyle] Shanahan offense," Brendel recently told NBC Sports Bay Area. "Being a part of that has really allowed me to use what I bring to the table, and it just kind of brings the best out of me, and I get to bring the best out of the offense. "

Brendel didn't just return to the 49ers because he is comfortable with the team. He loves how the organization treats its players and staff. That, along with the money, of course, factored into his decision to remain.

"Just based off of the last season, really, or two seasons, the 49ers have a fantastic thing going on," Brendel explained. "They really take care of their players, and their players' families, and really every single employee.

"I think they understand that it's a very expensive place to live and a very expensive place to work. So they kind of make up for that with the food [being] great, the team hotel is fantastic, the head of player engagement does a fantastic job with all of our families, and obviously, they have a fantastic social media and PR team as well.

"I've been on a lot of teams, and I think the 49ers made it the easiest to be a part of their team compared to all the others. "

Brendel on Javon Hargrave signing, 49ers' free agency moves

The 49ers lost a lot of veteran players in free agency, including offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Daniel Brunskill. However, they also made a big splash in the initial days of signings, adding former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. What does Brendel think of the team's activity during the first week of free agency?

"I think it's great," the offensive lineman shared. "Obviously, just looking at the past couple of seasons, you kind of see a trend on where you need to fortify your team and where you can kind of spend a little bit less. And I think defensive line is a great spot to spend money on, especially interior defensive line.

"[Hargrave] is a fantastic player from the Eagles. Hargrave is a really, really good player, so I feel like he's a great addition to the roster.

"And obviously, the guys that we signed back, I feel like we had a great group of guys last year, so any time you can sign a ton of guys back from your previously successful team, you're going to look to have the same success in the upcoming season. "

Brendel remembers preparing to play against Hargrave leading to the NFC Championship Game. Now that the two are teammates, Brendel will face him regularly during practice.

What makes Hargrave so tough to block?

"One is his motor," Brendel shared. "I feel like it's really hard to find a guy in the interior D-line that has the motor that he has and the drive to finish that he has. And he also is just a fantastic pass rusher. You don't really see guys that have—other than Aaron Donald—you don't see guys in the A and B gaps really have a multifaceted rush move repertoire.

"He will look a certain way on one play or one drive, and then he'll look like a completely different player on the next play or the next drive, and it's really hard to kind of get a beat on him and expect what he's going to do next just because of how many moves and how many rush techniques he can bring at you."

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