Programming note: For comprehensive 49ers coverage from Santa Clara watch "49ers Central" today at 3:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SANTA CLARA – There is little doubt who is in charge of the 49ers’ offense, especially with a rookie center stepping into the lineup.
When asked about the chemistry he needs to develop with newcomer Marcus Martin, quarterback Colin Kaepernick summed it up: “We tell him we’re changing the protection and he changes it.”
Martin will get his first NFL start on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, but he has been preparing for the opportunity for a while.
While he was out with a knee injury, Martin watched the first seven games of the season with offensive line coach Mike Solari on the sideline and took mental repetitions, he said. Martin studied defensive fronts and made the calls along with starter Daniel Kilgore.
With Kilgore out for the season with a lower leg fracture, Martin steps in and faces his first big challenge on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
“It’s understanding the mental aspect of the game,” Martin said. “Playing center is all about being able to direct traffic and understanding the things that are being thrown at you. So just having an overall comprehension of what we plan on doing this week is the most important thing.”
Kaepernick downplayed the importance of communication with his new center.
“His communication is more with the offensive line than me,” Kaepernick said. “Changing protections, and things like that, he has to know. But for the most part, we’ve had time to work together through training camp and we work with centers every day. It shouldn’t be a huge transition.”
But Martin said he has been watching Kaepernick and taking notes.
“Just understanding the things he likes to do (and) the things that he will do in order to make a play go,” Martin said. “And just having the overall comprehension of his scheme and his system and what he feels is best during that play.”
Kaepernick said his expectation of Martin is to “perform well.”
“He’s someone that we’ve worked with, and he’s been on top of things in meetings,” Kaepernick said. “So looking forward to seeing what he does.”