49ers center Eric Heitmann expected to miss entire season

Veteran San Francisco 49ers center Eric Heitmann will likely miss his second consecutive season after undergoing neck surgery.

Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that Heitmann, a mainstay for the 49ers since 2002, had surgery to repair a ruptured disc about a month ago. The rehabilitation time from the surgery is six months, meaning there is little chance he will play this season.

Heitmann missed the entire 2010 season when he suffered a stinger in training camp and then a broken left leg. After the leg healed, he was still dealing with neck issues and the team placed him on injured reserve. He has 114 career starts and his contract expires at the end of this coming season.

Complicating matters for the 49ers? David Baas, who replaced Heitmann last season, is not under contract. So when the lockout is resolved, the 49ers need to find a center -- either on their roster or on the open market -- and then get him up to speed with their new playbook. At least everyone will be starting on Page 1.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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