The San Francisco 49ers’ offensive line has been one of the most consistently good units in the NFL for the past three seasons. They have barely had any injuries, hardly any losses in free agency and they are always one of the top offensive lines in the league. This past offseason, the 49ers faced a problem: Jonathan Goodwin was declining due to his age and not worth bringing back on another contract. So who is going to fill in as center?
The answer is a fourth-year player out of Appalachian State University. The answer is Daniel Kilgore. Well, the answer was Daniel Kilgore. When the season ended, the 49ers were fairly certain they weren’t going to bring back Goodwin. Kilgore was next in line and a very serviceable player in his role as a backup. The 49ers signed him to a three-year contract extension in February, signaling to everyone that it was his job to lose.
This past Friday night, however, the 49ers went ahead and drafted Marcus Martin, center out of USC, with their first pick in the third round. Martin is the best center in the draft and stands at 6-foot-3 and weights 320 pounds. Martin is big, strong and very fast for his size. Getting to the next level will be absolutely no problem for him on Sundays. So will Martin be the 49ers’ starting center in Week 1 when they face the Dallas Cowboys? Did Kilgore only have the job for three months?
No one knows the answer until training camp. No one is ever handed their starting position on the 49ers. The one thing that is certain, though, is that the 49ers are not sold on Kilgore just yet. I still feel like it’s his starting spot to lose, but the leash is a short one. If Martin comes into training camp and knows the playbook inside and out and shows that the NFL game isn’t too fast for him, I don’t see Kilgore having enough physical tools to beat Martin for the job. Whether it’s Week 1 or Week 10, I think Marcus Martin is the future at the center position for the 49ers.