There have been recent reports that Alex Mack could hold off on retiring from football. Mack said, “We’ll see what teams are interested and what they have to offer and try to make a decision from there,” when asked about his future now that he’s an unrestricted free agent. Answering questions in relation to joining the 49ers, Mack also said he would welcome the possibility.
“Kyle is an incredible coach,” Mack told NBC Sports on Friday. “He’s an incredible coach, great person, strong motivator and runs an offense that is something that I’d know really well and that I performed very well in… Yeah, that said, they (the 49ers) are a very enticing thing.”
Thinking impartially, the 49ers need a center, and Mack would be a great fit, but is it possible Mack could be convinced to come back to Atlanta? He still has a unique combination of size, athleticism, and intelligence to lead an offensive line. In a zone-blocking scheme like Arthur Smith’s, the center is a critical position to have quality play at, and Mack showed this past season he still has a bit left in the tank.
Playing center is difficult in the NFL, in general. Snapping the ball and blocking someone heavier requires schematic advantages, precisely what Kyle Shanahan’s system does, which is probably why Mack is enticed by the idea of rejoining his former offensive coordinator.
But Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith should be getting a presentation together for Mack, using the same reasoning as the 49ers. Smith’s offense is similar, though not as extensive, to Shanahan’s, running multiple running schemes that confuse the defense and make blocking assignments easier for offensive lines. Shanahan is a different level of creativity; he really does incorporate every type of running scheme in his offense, but Smith is no slouch.
Mack returning to Atlanta should definitely be in the cards. He won’t require a king’s ransom on the open market and will likely only be looking for a one-year deal, which is ideal given Atlanta’s current cap situation. It will probably come down to what Mack wants because it’s not money. When he referenced what “they” would offer, I believe he is referring to the team as a whole, not dollars and cents. If Fontenot and Smith can frame it the right way, they could convince Mack he has a shot to compete again with the Falcons next season.