49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 30, 2010
Heitmann's return gives 49ers o-line options

Mike Singletary said yesterday that there will be no changes to the starting lineup, including at right guard where Chilo Rachal had a shaky performance in Kansas City. "It hasn't changed since Monday," Singletary said of the lineup, perhaps forgetting that on Monday he hinted that "there could be some changes."

But Singletary soon will have plenty of options. Center Eric Heitmann went through a limited practice for the first time since breaking his fibula on Aug. 9. Heitmann likely will work his way into playing shape this week and be available perhaps as early as the team's Sunday night game against Philadelphia Oct. 10.

Will Heitmann be reinserted into the starting offensive line as soon as he's ready? That will depend on how well the offensive line, especially starting center David Baas, is playing at the time. "As far as Heitmann, I think we have to sit down and evaluate because he's been out a while and talk about the chemistry when he comes back," Singletary said when asked about that scenario last week. Singletary said that Baas has "taken ownership" of the position and has "done well."

But if Heitmann is healthy, there are certainly more options than a Heitmann-for-Baas swap at center. Both players have extensive experience at both guard positions, although Heitmann hasn't started a game there since 2005. Heitmann could return to center and Baas could bump out to guard or vice versa.

The 49ers also have Adam Snyder waiting in the wings. Snyder was in the lineup at right guard - Rachal was out with a stinger - when the offensive line has its best performance to date in Week 2. Snyder is not as powerful as Rachal, but he's quicker and perhaps better in pass protection. If the 49ers' plan is to become more nimble, more multifaceted offensively under new coordinator Mike Johnson, the offensive line should reflect that.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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