Daniel Kilgore, who the 49ers are hoping will be their starting center this year, had minor surgery in June on the ankle he broke last season and will not be available for at least the first half of training camp.
Coach Jim Tomsula characterized the procedure as a “cleanup.” The 49ers had been expecting Kilgore, who started the first seven games last year at center until the injury occurred, midway through training camp. Tomsula said that date has been pushed back.
“I don’t know how far back,” he said, “but we’re not concerned for him long-term, season-ending, none of that stuff.”
The 49ers ended their June minicamp with Joe Looney playing center with the first-string offense, and he could be in that spot during the team’s first practice Saturday. Tomsula said Marcus Martin also was capable of playing center but the team prefers him at guard.
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Martin likely will play right guard while Alex Boone – the team’s right guard since 2012 – continues to play left guard. The tackles will be Joe Staley and free-agent addition Erik Pears.
Three other 49ers also will begin training camp on the sideline. Two inside linebackers, Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore, checked in Friday with issues – Wilhoite has a minor leg strain while Bellore was sick.
Wilhoite was the only 49ers linebacker to start 16 games last season. Nick Moody, Phillip Wheeler and Shayne Skov will fill in. The last injured player is rookie wideout DeAndre Smelter, who tore his ACL in late November.
Meanwhile, linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who missed the 2014 season with a knee injury, easily passed the team’s conditioning test Friday and will be in his familiar starting spot for the beginning of practice.
Bowman will continue to practice with the brace that is protecting his surgically repaired knee.
Armstead in “great” shape – First-round draft pick Arik Armstead (Pleasant Grove High) will wear No. 69 – at least during training camp and the preseason.
“That’s what they gave me, so we’ll see what happens,” Armstead said. “Just playing football now. It’s just a number right now.”
League rules prohibited Armstead from taking part in the spring practices because his school, Oregon, remained in session. Still, Tomsula noted that Armstead, who worked out in Sacramento while he was away from the 49ers, arrived for training camp Monday in “great shape” shape and that he’s picked up the playbook quickly.
“I tell you what, I’ve been really encouraged with Arik. I really have,” Tomsula said. “Everybody has. ... What (he’s) missed is the eight-second explosions of the play. That’s what hurts you.”
Fan fare – The team boosted the capacity for its open practice at Levi’s Stadium on Aug. 9 from 10,000 to 20,000 fans. Tickets are free but will be dispensed from a random drawing.