Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that 49ers center Eric Heitmann is expected to miss the 2011 season after undergoing neck surgery recently.
The procedure, which was performed four weeks ago by Dr. Robert Watkins, repaired a ruptured disc and takes approximately six months to recover from.
A seventh-round pick out of Stanford in 2002, Heitmann started 114 of 119 games between his rookie season and 2009 before a training camp “stinger” and broken fibula kept him on the shelf in 2010, with the 49ers placing the four-time captain on injured on November 2.
Heitmann, 31, is entering the final year of his contract.
With Heitmann out of the picture, the 49ers will likely to re-sign veteran David Baas, who has started 32 games for the club over the past two seasons, including all 16 at center in 2010. Baas turns 30 in September, and will an unrestricted free agent when the 2011 league year opens up. Another option in free agency may be Chris Spencer, a former first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks who has started 70 games over the past five seasons. 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari coached the Seahawks’ line in 2008 and 2009.