49ers make rare change on offensive line

The San Francisco 49ers took a step Thursday that will signal change on their starting offensive line for the first time since 2011.

The team extended the contract of backup Daniel Kilgore through 2017. His deal was set to expire next season. It is a sign Kilgore will be the favorite to be the starting center in 2014. Jonathan Goodwin, the starting center for the past three seasons, is 35 and is a free agent. The 49ers have been looking to replace him.

It appears Kilgore will get that chance. The team also has Joe Looney, and could sign a veteran or draft a rookie at the position. But it seems Kilgore, who has played some at guard, is set to anchor one of the NFL’s better offensive lines.

ESPN analyst Matt Williamson said the timing might be right for a switch to Kilgore.

“I know the 49ers like Kilgore and would get him involved in six-offensive lineman sets. He is young and I haven't been super impressed with Goodwin of late,” Williamson said. “Kilgore is a tough guy, though, that fits their mold in that regard, and is better run-blocking than in protection, which again, fits.”

Kilgore will have to cement his role in training camp. But Thursday’s move means the team believes he can handle it.