Veteran 49ers center Eric Heitmann recently underwent neck surgery and is expected to miss his second straight NFL season, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
According to the report, Heitmann underwent surgery to repair a ruptured disc about four weeks ago. Kenny Zuckerman, Heitmann’s agent, said the recovery time is roughly six months.
Left tackle Joe Staley was unaware of Heitmann’s surgery, but had been in touch with his teammate earlier this offseason. Staley said he knew Heitmann, 31, a nine-year veteran, was weighing his career options because “his neck was messed up.”
“I know he was trying to just weigh his options,” Staley said. “I don’t know if we really expected him back anyways. We’re already moving forward with (Adam) Snyder playing center right now and we drafted a couple guys.”
Snyder, a six-year veteran, has been lining up at center during the 49ers’ two offensive minicamps at San Jose State during the lockout. He has started games at every position on the offensive line besides center during his career.
Center David Baas, who earned high marks while starting 16 games at center last year, is an unrestricted free agent and has indicated a desire to remain with the 49ers. Baas flew from Florida to participate in the final day of San Francisco’s first minicamp on June 9. After the practice, Baas said, “I plan on coming back.” Baas is not attending this week’s camp.
The Niners also grabbed a pair of offensive linemen in fifth-round pick Daniel Kilgore (Appalachian State) and seventh-round selection Mike Person (Montana State) during the NFL draft. Kilgore and Person were tackles at Division I-AA colleges, but the 49ers expect them to play guard and center in the NFL.
Kilgore has not played center since he was a three-year starter at the position at Dobyns-Bennett (Tenn.) High. He played center at the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game after his senior season at Appalachian State and did drills at the position leading up to the draft.
After being drafted on April 30, Kilgore said, “They’re looking at me at center, I know for sure.”
Person has not played center, at any level.
Heitmann suffered a broken fibula during last year’s training camp, but was unable to play after his leg healed due to a neck injury he had suffered earlier in camp. He was placed on injured reserve Nov. 2.