After a few years of changes at the position, the 49ers will establish some center continuity. They are re-signing Jake Brendel, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
Inserted into San Francisco’s starting lineup following Alex Mack‘s retirement, Brendel started all 20 49ers games last season. He agreed to terms on a four-year extension, per Rapoport, who adds the Jets made a push to add him as well. The 49ers are giving Brendel $8MM guaranteed, with Rapoport adding (via Twitter) the deal maxes out at $20MM.
The 49ers showed considerable confidence in Brendel ahead of last season, passing on adding a proven option to give the career backup an opportunity. Brendel, who had made three starts over the previous six seasons, displayed consistency and helped the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey-led rushing attack during the team’s 12-game win streak. ESPN’s run block win rate metric graded Brendel fifth among centers.
Pro Football Focus graded Brendel as the league’s No. 20 center, and a number of options — Connor McGovern (the older one), Ethan Pocic and Garrett Bradbury — were available. We have seen a run on center re-signings, however, with Pocic and Bradbury also returning to their teams (the Browns and Vikings, respectively). It will be interesting if these developments lead the Jets to keep McGovern.
Brendel will turn 31 before the season starts. The 49ers liked enough about what they saw from the former UDFA last year to reinvest. Brendel has been with 49ers O-line coach Chris Foerster since the latter’s Dolphins days, but he only started three games in Miami. The 49ers used Brendel as a backup option dating back to 2020.
The 49ers spent to fortify their center position early in Kyle Shanahan’s tenure, but Weston Richburg ended up suffering a career-ending injury to cut his time in San Francisco short. They used veteran Ben Garland post-Richburg, and Shanahan linked up with former Falcons pupil Mack in 2021. While Mack started every game for the 49ers that season, he retired last summer. The Niners now have Mack’s successor locked in at a reasonable rate. That contract will accompany Spencer Burford and Aaron Banks‘ rookie deals, along with Colton McKivitz‘s low-cost extension, on the Trent Williams-fronted line.