Mike Iupati will not take part in the upcoming Pro Bowl, leaving teammate Joe Staley to represent the 49ers offensive linemen in the annual all-star game. There’s a good chance that safety Antoine Bethea could join Staley in Phoenix. Bethea would replace Seattle’s Kam Chancellor in the game.
Iupati, the team's left guard, dealt with a hyper-extended elbow late in the season. The injury often left him lying on the field in pain, and he briefly left at least two games. However, he missed just one start in 2014 – a concussion kept him out of the Oct. 19 game against Denver -- and Pro Football Focus ranked him as the league's 14th best guard and its second-best run blocker behind Baltimore's Marshal Yanda.
Iupati is scheduled to be a free agent in March, and most rank him as the best player available at his position. The 49ers may not be able to retain Iupati, a first-round pick in 2010, and are eying Brandon Thomas, a third-round pick in May who is coming off an ACL tear, as a possible replacement.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.
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