49ers expected to sign veteran Hroniss Grasu to bolster center depth

49ers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers are expected to sign veteran center Hroniss Grasu.

The San Francisco 49ers have had quite the busy few days making a number of signings — particularly on Wednesday — and they continued that shopping spree by signing veteran center Hroniss Grasu.

After inking a few veteran wide receivers to contracts, the 49ers decided to bolster their offensive line depth with the addition of Grasu. And while the team’s wide receiver injuries have taken center stage, the center position has quietly become a major concern.

Starting center Weston Richburg remains sidelined as he rehabs the knee injury he suffered late last season. And it seems like there’s a good chance begins the year on the PUP list.

We might not see Richburg until the middle of the 2020 season.

His backup, Ben Garland, was removed from Tuesday’s practice with an ankle injury and although he attempted to return, he finished the day on the sidelines.

With both Richburg and Garland out, the versatile Daniel Brunskill shifted over to center for the remainder of practice allowing veteran Tom Compton to run with the first-team offense at right guard.

The 49ers are very high on Brunskill, but the former AAF standout has never started an NFL game at center. Moreover, the team would rather not insert Compton into the starting lineup if they don’t have to.

The 49ers have been searching for center help over the past few days.

San Francisco hoped that Spencer Long could give the team some insurance at the position with Richburg out, but the former Buffalo Bills lineman abruptly retired shortly after signing.

The 49ers have also reportedly been in contact with a familiar face in Daniel Kilgore, although no agreement has been reached just yet. You’d have to think that the signing of Grasu indicates that the 49ers don’t think Garland’s injury is too serious.

After all, the 29-year-old is hardly a starting-caliber option.

A third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Grasu started eight games in his rookie season but was quickly passed over following an injury that wiped out his entire 2016 campaign and the selection of Cody Whitehair in the 2016 NFL Draft.

He would bounce around on a few rosters last playing for the Baltimore Ravens last season, but he’s played in a total of just 10 games since 2016.

The one positive is that Grasu has plenty of experience playing in a zone-blocking scheme — a Kyle Shanahan specialty — and excelled, filling that role while at Oregon.

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Ideally, Grasu is simply depth until Garland hopefully returns. But as the 49ers learned firsthand last season, having quality offensive line depth is always a necessity.