SAN JOSE — San Francisco 49ers center Eric Heitmann recently underwent neck surgery and is expected to miss his second straight NFL season, CSN Bay Area reported Wednesday.
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. Zuckerman indicated Heitmann hopes to resume his career after he's cleared to play.
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 Wednesday at the 49ers players-only offensive minicamp at San Jose State. "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 during the lockout. He has started 56 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 June9. 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, and was unable to play after his leg healed due to a neck injury he had suffered earlier in camp. He was placed on the injured reserve on Nov.2.
EX-STANFORD CENTER PARTICIPATES
Undrafted former Stanford center Chase Beeler participated at the 49ers' minicamp Wednesday and helped shed some light on the offensive playbook.
Beeler, of course, is familiar with the nuances of the Niners' offense due to his experience at Stanford under head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive assistant Greg Roman, now San Francisco's offensive coordinator.
Beeler, who will sign as a rookie free agent after the NFL lockout, recently met Staley in Palo Alto and they agreed it would be beneficial to both parties if Beeler visited during this week's minicamp. Beeler was a first-team AP All-American this past season.
"I thought it would be good for him work out with some NFL guys and also he has history with this playbook," Staley said. " ... He has a history with the coaching staff and (Jim) Harbaugh and it's the same kind of offense that they ran (at Stanford). So he's familiar with all the calls and how they ran things and he can clarify things for us."
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