The last guy in the green room during the draft will get the first crack at replacing Daniel Kilgore at center for the 49ers.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday several offensive linemen can play the position but that Marcus Martin, a third-round draft pick in May, will work with the first-team offensive line when the 49ers begin preparing for their next game, on Nov. 2 against the St. Louis Rams. The 49ers have a bye this week.
Harbaugh said Kilgore will have surgery Tuesday on his left ankle, which was fractured during Sunday’s 42-17 loss when a Denver Bronco fell onto it in the third quarter. Harbaugh said the injury was similar to the one that knocked nose tackle Ian Williams out for the season last year.
Williams’ injury included broken bones and ligament damage. He had several complications and needed four surgeries on his left ankle. He missed most of the offseason but has started every game this year and has played well.
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Kilgore apprenticed behind veteran Jonathan Goodwin for three seasons before taking over at center this year. Pro Football Focus ranks Kilgore as the ninth-best center in the league through seven games.
“He was disappointed,” Harbaugh said of Kilgore. “He played well in the game, so it’s an obstacle to overcome, and he’s made of the right stuff. There’s no doubt he’ll overcome it.”
Martin was considered one of the top centers in the draft and went to New York City in May expecting to be taken in the first or second round. Instead, he watched as player after player in the green room heard his name called, hugged family members and then went onstage for his moment in the spotlight.
Martin fell to the third round and was the lone player remaining at Radio City Music Hall when the 49ers called at pick No. 70.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Martin said on the day he was drafted. “You sit there, and you watch everybody else get called. But, obviously, I just kept the faith and just kept my head on straight. I wasn’t upset. I sat there and did what I had to do. And when the 49ers called me, it was a great. I was ecstatic. Celebrated with my mom, my dad. You know, it’s a great opportunity for me.”
Martin, who turns 21 next month, said the draft day experience put a chip on his shoulder, something the 49ers like. Harbaugh also said he was impressed that Martin stayed on top of the mental aspects of the game after suffering a knee injury during the preseason.
“He’s excelled at the mental aspects both before and after he was injured,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve been really impressed with that. He knew he was hurt, knew he was going to be out multiple weeks. And he did not ease off in terms of the classroom and the study. I think that bodes well.”
Martin is healthy now and went through a full practice with the team for the first time last week.
Harbaugh said Joe Looney and rookie Dillon Farrell also can play center. Both did so at times against Denver.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.