In August, 49ers rookie center Marcus Martin was injured in an exhibition victory over the Chargers.
It was the second setback for the former USC standout, who lost time early in training camp to an ankle injury and had been playing “catch up,” according to offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
But the dislocated kneecap Martin suffered against the Chargers – forcing him to be carted from the field – turned out not to be season-ending. He returned to practice last week.
His return was just in time.
Martin, the 6-foot-3, 321-pounder taken in the third round, now is in line to step in to replace starting center Daniel Kilgore, who was hurt in Sunday night’s wipeout loss to the Denver Broncos. Kilgore reportedly suffered a broken leg and is likely out for the rest of the season.
Dillon Farrell, an undrafted rookie from New Mexico, finished the game at center for San Francisco, but Martin certainly would seem to have more upside than Farrell – if he can get back to speed quickly. Fortunatley for the 4-3 49ers, they have a bye this coming weekend and don’t play until Sunday, Nov. 2, when the Rams come to Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers liked Martin for what he did at USC, where he played both center and guard and was an outstanding, physical blocker.
Despite his injury in the preseason, he stayed positive. Just after leaving the Chargers game with his knee injury, he tweeted: “What don’t kill me, will only make me stronger. I’ll be back better than ever before, thank you everyone for the well wishes! Love y’all.”
Martin participated fully in practices last week but wasn’t on the team’s active roster for the Broncos game.
Now, his season begins in earnest, with a chance to start against the Rams after the bye week.
Niners running back Frank Gore says somebody – Farrell or Martin – will be good to go in Kilgore’s spot.
“We wish that (Kilgore) was here, but these things happen,” Gore told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
For the 49ers, a lot of “these things” have been happening, with key players dropping every week with injuries. The bye week has come at a perfect time for the wounded to heal.