Kyle Shanahan, who added veteran center Alex Mack to his offense a year ago, made a similar move Wednesday with the 49ers.
The team traded for Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah, 30, who made the Pro Bowl as an alternate this past season but who was set to be released by Baltimore because of salary-cap reasons.
“Kyle and I are firm believers that competition brings out the best in everyone,” general manager John Lynch said in a press release. “We also believe that you can never have enough good offensive linemen, and Jeremy has certainly proven to be a very talented player having earned a Pro Bowl selection last season.”
Zuttah will compete with six-year veteran Daniel Kilgore, who has been the team’s best center for the last three seasons but who has been unable to stay healthy for a full 16 games over that span. Zuttah’s addition also will provide some depth at both center and guard, both of which were threadbare for the 49ers entering free agency.
The 49ers, who have more salary-cap space than any other team, will take on Zuttah’s salary, which has two years remaining with salary-cap hits of $4.6 million each season. The teams also will swap sixth-round picks in the upcoming draft; The Ravens get pick No. 186 from the 49ers and San Francisco takes Baltimore’s pick at No. 198.
The 49ers have two picks each in the fourth-sixth rounds this year. They also have the 202nd overall pick in Round 6.
Zuttah has been a starting center since 2009, first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then with the Ravens beginning in 2014. He’s started all 16 contests in five of his nine years in the NFL, including last season.