Daniel Kilgore can enter free agency this year, but he’d rather stay with the 49ers.
He has at least one valuable card he can play in his bid to stay with San Francisco, the only franchise he’s played for: the blessing of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo led the 49ers to five straight wins to close the 2017 season, and he and the veteran center worked well together.
“I think there’s a special relationship between center and quarterback,” Garoppolo said recently. “We spend so much time together. Me and him got on the same page almost instantly when I first got here. He made my job a lot easier, helping me with the run game and all that stuff. I think we complement each other very well, so hopefully we’ll work something out.”
Kilgore just completed a three-year deal with the 49ers worth just over $6 million. He earned about $1.4 million in 2017, and would likely require a raise to stay with the team – if general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan want to keep him. But, there's plenty of salary-cap space to do it.
Kilgore – energized by the team’s surge with Garoppolo in 2017 – certainly wants to stay with the team that took him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of Appalachian State.
“It would be huge,” Kilgore told Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, about staying with the 49ers. “To spend eight years or more plus with one organization is huge for me. I’m not the type of guy where it’s going to be about the money to me. It’s about this team and the brotherhood and what the future holds for this team.
“That’s what I’m really impressed with. It’s such a young team, starting 0-9, finishing out the season 6-10, it’s pretty special.”
Kilgore started all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017. To some, it was his best season. In the final game of the year, a win over the Rams, Kilgore even made Pro Football Focus’ all-NFL team of the week. Noted PFF: “Kilgore allowed just a single hurry across 33 pass-blocking snaps, but like the other 49ers linemen on this team, he was particularly impressive as a run blocker, getting to the second level and cutting off linebackers with precision.” Kilgore also was the 49ers’ highest-graded player by PFF in a win over the Bears, which noted he was exceptional that day as both a run and pass blocker.
Now, Kilgore hopes the 49ers are open to bringing him back.
“I want to continue to be a Niner,” he said. “And we’ll see if that happens.”