Doug Williams

Niners' Daniel Kilgore is Fighting off Challenge

Veteran center is holding on to his starting job so far against the challenge of former Ravens Pro Bowler Jeremy Zuttah

When the 49ers acquired center Jeremy Zuttah from the Ravens in March, it seemed the team was eager to move on from incumbent Daniel Kilgore.

Yet two weeks into training camp, Kilgore has been up to the challenge.

As the 49ers prepare for their exhbition opener Friday night in Kansas City vs. the Chiefs, Kilgore is listed as the No. 1 center on the organization’s first depth chart of 2017.

Kilgore has taken the majority of snaps with the first-team offense at center and it appears to be his job to lose. Though Kilgore has been knocked out of the lineup by injuries in recent years, he started 13 games in 2016 and, at age 29, is two years younger than Zuttah, who was selected to the Pro Bowl last season in Baltimore.

Cam Inman, who covers the 49ers for the Bay Area News Group, noted there is still time for things to change, and there remains some uncertainty on the line, where either Kilgore or Zuttah could slide over to one of the guard positions if needed – though it appears Zuttah has been reluctant so far to play guard in this camp.

For now, Kilgore appears to be up for the challenge to win his duel with Zuttah at center. In fact, Zuttah could even be in jeopardy of missing out on a roster spot by the end of camp.

“Kilgore, if he stays healthy, is on course to start ahead of Zuttah, a Pro Bowler last season … whose $3.5 million in base salary might be too pricey as a backup,” wrote Inman.

Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, wrote this week that Zuttah could be in jeopardy.

“Everyone keeps waiting for Jeremy Zuttah to make his move and challenge for the starting center role,” he wrote. “That hasn’t happened yet. Yes, Zuttah gets worked into the first-string offense every now and then. But the bulk of the first-string reps continue to go to Daniel Kilgore, who likely will starte there Friday against Kansas City.”

Tim Barnes, a lesser-paid option, also has getting some snaps at center with the first- and second-team offensive units and could be the team's No. 2 center if the 49ers release Zuttah.

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