49ers retain center Jake Brendel on four-year deal



SANTA CLARA — Whichever quarterback lines up behind the 49ers’ offensive line this season, there’ll be a familiar center snapping the ball: Jake Brendel.


Brendel, after testing the free agency waters, is re-signing on a four-year, $20 million deal with $8 million guaranteed, the NFL Network first reported Tuesday.

After losing right tackle Mike McGlinchey to the Denver Broncos’ blockbuster offer Monday, the 49ers’ offensive line wooed back Brendel from potential suitors, reportedly including a New York Jets franchise making itself more appealing for the potential arrival of Aaron Rodgers.

Brendel started every game last season for the NFC runner-ups, in succeeding the retired Alex Mack. It was Brendel’s first full season as a starter, and he ended up hiking the ball to four different quarterbacks: Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson, with the latter two both sustaining injuries in the NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia.

“It’s pretty wild to look back and see the performance that came out of the offense regardless of the circumstances,” Brendel said as the 49ers cleaned out their lockers Jan. 31.

Brendel’s deal comes a day after free agency negotiations opened big with the 49ers landing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (four years, $84 million) from the Eagles.

San Francisco 49ers center Jake Brendel (64) recoveres a fumble during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) 

Brendel, 30, broke into the NFL in 2016 as an undrafted free agent, and he had stints with the Dallas Cowboys, the Miami Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens before joining the 49ers in 2020, only to opt out of that season amid COVID concerns. He credited his NFL breakthrough to his relationship with offensive line coach Chris Foerster, tracing back to their days on the 2016-17 Dolphins.

“It’s just really tough to get an opportunity to start if you’re an undrafted guy,” Brendel said. “Coach Foerster had the idea of me starting for a long time. We just didn’t have the opportunity yet. He gave me a fair shot to earn the position this preseason and I just ran with it.

“I feel I got better each week. The more reps, the more you can build off and I feel it will get better from here,” Brendel added in that Jan. 31 interview. “You still have to hit free agency and see what that is. And I have a kid. (Brendel became a father to a baby girl, Frankie, the morning of the 49ers’ regular-season finale, Jan. 8.)


“It’s going to be a hard decision but hopefully we can get something figured out.”

Perhaps expediting that move was how free agency impacted other centers. The Vikings’ Garrett Bradbury agreed Tuesday to re-sign there, NFL Network reported.

The 49ers’ starting offensive line as it looks six months before the regular season: left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Aaron Banks, Brendel, right guard Spencer Burford, right tackle Colton McKivitz or Jaylon Moore.

Their starting quarterback for Week 1? That’s more suspect.

The odds-on favorite is Trey Lance, if his right ankle responds well from last year’s surgeries. Brock Purdy had his right elbow repaired last Friday and should start a throwing program in three months that gets him fully cleared for competitive activities in September.

Monday saw the 49ers strike a deal with another quarterback, veteran Sam Darnold, who’se one-year deal is worth $4.5 million but could reach $11.5 million through incentives such as playoff appearances and playing time.

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