Daniel Kilgore aims to remain with starting unit

Harbaugh: I wouldn't read too much into the depth chart

Daniel Kilgore aims to remain with starting unit
August 7, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Daniel Kilgore took part in 70 snaps as an additional blocker in 2012, mostly in short-yardage situations. (AP)

Daniel Kilgore: "Kap and I both came in together. I've snapped to him the past three years." (AP)

Daniel Kilgore finds himself in the role as the No. 1 center as Jonathan Goodwin is sidelined with an injury. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SANTA CLARA -- Daniel Kilgore has already gotten plenty of chances to prove himself since the end of last season.

And he will get even more Thursday night when the 49ers open the exhibition season against the Denver Broncos.

Kilgore (6 foot 3, 300 pounds) enters his third NFL season with his sights set on earning a starting job on the 49ers' offensive line. With incumbent Jonathan Goodwin spending most of the offseason working out on his own in South Carolina, Kilgore lined up with the first-team offense through most of the offseason program.

And, again, Kilgore has found himself in the role as the No. 1 center while Goodwin has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury since the fifth practice of training camp. Goodwin will not suit up for Thursday's opener.

"I do see myself competing for the starting center job," said Kilgore, whom the 49ers traded up to select in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

"I see myself competing for a spot on the roster. Not only being one of the seven offensive linemen, but the starting center, one of the five key offensive linemen."

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Although the 49ers' offensive line remained intact for all 16 regular-season games and their Super Bowl run, Kilgore found a way to contribute on offense. He took part in 70 snaps as an additional blocker, mostly in short-yardage situations.

"Just getting that game-day experience and to be able to step onto the field and have a key role -- an extra offensive lineman, tight end, fullback, whatever -- that's definitely key. It helps out with experience. It definitely is an advantage. From my past roles, I'm very prepared and ready to go."

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There was a point in the offseason in which it appeared Kilgore would be the front-runner to be the starting center. Goodwin, who enters the final year of his contract, accepted a $1.2 million pay cut to remain with the team. Goodwin is now scheduled to earn $2.5 million with $1 million of the salary guaranteed.

Even with Goodwin's return, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the veteran will not simply be handed his starting job.

"Everything is really a competition," Roman said. "Everything is a meritocracy. Whoever competes and gets the job done at a high level is going to play or at least have a significant role. So that's just how we look at it."

Said Kilgore, "It's great to watch Jonathan. What he does is outstanding. He's a really a pro's pro. For me, being able to watch him the past two seasons and watch him to this day, it's really helped out. For me, taking my game to another level, it's wanting that starting center job. I do use that as motivation."

Kilgore, who played center in high school before a standout career as a guard and left tackle Appalachian State, is feeling more comfortable in his role, he said. After all, he has gotten a lot of valuable time with the first-team offense and with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

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"Kap and I both came in together," he said. "I've snapped to him the past three years. There's a lot more on my plate -- learning with the ones and commanding the first offensive line and getting everybody in and out of the huddle. So there's a lot more to it. I've been doing it the past three years, so I've been doing it like I am the starter."