****Update**** Baas' deal with New York is in line with that of the top three centers in the lague. In the end, that was too much for the 49ers to pay for a player who played only a single season at center.
The 49ers must begin looking for a new anchor to their young offensive line after David Baas agreed to a deal with the New York York Giants, according to a league source. The 49ers are believed to have pursued Baas heavily, but "it just didn't work out," the source said. No deals can be completed until Friday afternoon.
After quarterback Alex Smith, Baas was the team's most important offensive free agent to re-sign. He started all 16 games last season in place of injured Eric Heitmann, and he played well. Heitmann, the team's long-time center, had neck surgery earlier this year and will not play this season.
Baas, meanwhile, indicated in June that he would return to the 49ers. He flew to San Jose from Florida to take part in one of the practices at a Smith-run minicamp, and he picked up a copy of the playbook. Baas lined up as the starting center in those drills.
"Yeah, I have a feeling that they definitely, that they want me back," he said at the time. "And like I said, I want to be back. I've got my house out here, a lot of things that I'm still hanging onto. But I'm just preparing and when the time comes, everything will work out."
Baas' departure prompted the 49ers to sign another free agent center, Tony Wragge, to a one-year deal, according to a league source. Wragge's signing was imperative because he has starting experience at the position and the other center candidates on the roster do not.
Adam Snyder, for example, has been practicing there this offseason but has never played that position in a game. Other options on the roster include the team's two draft picks, Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person, neither of whom played center in college, and undrafted Stanford center Chase Beeler.
Even before Baas committed to the Giants, the 49ers showed interested in long-time Bears center Olin Kreutz. He's a six-time Pro Bowl player, who would add an element of toughness to a young and still-congealing line. Kreutz hasn't missed a start since 2002. The Bears, however, want to re-sign Kreutz and he has expressed his desire to remain in Chicago.
-- Matt Barrows