Center is Baas’ job to lose

Last week, the 49ers pushed the idea that they were starting David Baas at center because they already knew what they had in Tony Wragge. It looked like an open competition for the temporary spot created by Eric Heitmann’s broken fibula.

Now it seems clear that Wragge won’t get a real shot at the job. While Baas continues to get all the work with the first team, Wragge isn’t even getting most of his snaps at center. He has primarily been working at left guard with the second team as Adam Snyder recovers from a concussion. Getting the No. 2 reps at center the past two days has been Cody Wallace.

Coach Mike Singletary said today that Wragge is still a candidate to replace Heitmann, who is walking on crutches and expected to miss another five to seven weeks. But he made it sound like Baas’ job to lose at this point.

“The fact that Baas had a really good showing last week (at Indianapolis) – the thing that we wanted to know was if Baas could do it,” Singletary noted. “And it’s just one of those things where you never really know until you get in the game, and Baas just really handled himself really well. He handled the calls really well, the protections, he snapped the ball with ease. So there was a lot of comfort in that. So yes, Wragge is still in that, but at the same time I think Baas did a really nice job last week, and hopefully we can continue to go forward with that.”
Singletary is unlikely to announce starters for the Vikings game before Sunday, but Baas is a good bet to be your opening center.
Wragge and Baas both joined the 49ers in 2005, but they brought different pedigrees. Baas, the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year at Michigan as a senior, was a second-round draft choice in ’05, the No. 33 overall selection. Wragge had gone undrafted out of New Mexico State in 2002 and had spent the 2004 season out of football after bouncing on and off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad.

Since then, the 49ers have worked to get Baas into the lineup, while Wragge has mostly been viewed as a reserve. Wragge does have some experience at center, though, having started two games there for the 49ers in 2006 and having subbed in two others. Baas has seen action at center just once, replacing Wragge in a 2006 game at Denver.

Wragge was in no mood to rock the boat today. When asked whether he’s still competing to be Heitmann’s stand-in, he said, “I really don’t have anything to say about that. … Wherever I’m called upon, I’ll try to be useful.”

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