Return of Kilgore Could Provide a Nice Boost for Offense

Center could begin practicing with 49ers Monday after missing more than a year with injury and two surgeries

The 49ers offensive line has been one of the team’s weakest links in 2015, but help is on the way.

Center Daniel Kilgore, who was lost with a broken leg midway through the 2014 season, can begin practicing with the Niners Monday. Though it’s not likely that he would be ready to play this Sunday against the Seahawks in Seattle, Kilgore – who is coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list – can be activated at any time over the next three weeks.

Kilgore had surgery after his injury that occurred last October, and then had to have a followup surgery this summer that caused him to miss the start of this season. He’s been going through rehabilitation and work on a side field while the team practices, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Kilgore, who was in his first season as a starting center for the 49ers last year, likely would be an improvement over second-year man Marcus Martin, who is graded by the analytics website Pro Football Focus as the NFL’s least effective starting center.

Kilgore, meanwhile, was ranked the No. 14 center in the league at the time of his injury.

Martin has been part of a struggling offensive line that has allowed 28 sacks. It also has been inconsistent in a running attack that ranks 18th in the league.

Kilgore told Barrows he’s been running, pushing sleds and getting ready to rejoin his teammates on the main practice field.

“We’re offensive linemen, we’ve got to push things,” Kilgore told Barrows. “The sled work is huge for my conditioning and getting ready for practice.”

Recently, head coach Jim Tomsula told the media that Kilgore is “progressing really well.”

The return of Kilgore and the insertion of Andrew Tiller at right guard over Jordan Devey could raise the level of play on a line that especially has struggled at center, right guard and right tackle.

Kilgore had been a question mark going into 2014. He’d earned the job after starter Jonathan Goodwin was not re-signed. But he played surprisingly well and seemed to be growing into a strong performer when he was injured.

Said then-head coach Jim Harbaugh at the time of the injury: “He’s been playing really well, better and better each week.”

If he can return this season and regain his form, the 49ers will have a chance to see if Kilgore can be part of the team’s long-term solution on the offensive line and count on him for 2016. He is signed through next season.

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