Jake Brendel’s injury opens up several possibilities for 49ers OL during OTAs

jake brendel’s injury opens up several possibilities for 49ers ol during otas

Jake Brendel’s injury opens up several possibilities for 49ers OL during OTAs

The San Francisco 49ers were dealt some unfortunate news to begin organized team activities (OTAs), as head coach Kyle Shanahan revealed that center Jake Brendel would miss the entire phase of the offseason due to knee arthritis.

As a result, the 49ers have gone a different direction with their offensive line to begin OTAs, with Jon Feliciano sliding over to center, while Spencer Burford takes over the right guard spot.

Brendel’s injury is definitely a blow, as the center plays a significant role in the 49ers offense, with this portion of the offseason being a good time to continue establishing a rapport with both the quarterback and the offensive line as a whole.

However, with Brendel out, the 49ers are now able to experiment with different players in different positions, providing them an outlook of how their offensive line may look should an injury occur during the season.

Feliciano, a veteran who has seen extensive experience at both guard and center during his career, now moves over to center, allowing the 49ers to foster competition at right guard.

Now, it’s expected that Brendel will resume his role at center upon his return from injury. But, if there are any additional complications, or if the 49ers are comfortable with Feliciano at center, they now have the flexibility to entertain that option after repping it during OTAs.

The 49ers had Spencer Burford out there starting on Day 1, but third-round rookie Dominick Puni lined up at right guard with the second-team offense, and could be a candidate for some first-team reps if he’s able to acclimate quickly during OTAs.

During this offseason, the goal for San Francisco should be to get their five best offensive linemen on the field. The competition and now added flexibility with Feliciano heading to center provide them with a chance to truly evaluate all of their guard options and determine who in the group provides them the best chance to win games in 2024.

However, Brendel’s injury isn’t something to worry about yet, as head coach Kyle Shanahan indicated that he should be able to return by training camp, noting that the center could tough through it at the moment if it was necessary.

Looking towards the backups, 2022 sixth-rounder Nick Zakelj began OTAs as the backup center, with undrafted free agent Drake Nugent working behind him as the third-string center.

It’ll be a crucial offseason for both players, as Zakelj will need to show something more after underwhelming the last two offseasons in order to earn a roster spot.

Likewise, Nugent was seen as one of the 49ers' top undrafted free agents, and could be in line for more opportunities depending on how quickly he can show his talents at the next level against San Francisco’s deep defensive line group.

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