Brendel's playoff prep aided by team effort at home with newborn


SANTA CLARA — Center Jake Brendel’s job is to keep everyone along the 49ers’ offensive line on the same page and working as a team.

But when it comes to family life, Brendel's wife, Zan, takes over in the same role.

Zan gave birth to the couple’s first child, daughter Frankie Austin Brendel, on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 7:41 a.m. at El Camino Health in Los Gatos.

Five hours and 44 minutes later, Brendel lined up for the 49ers against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium in a game the club had to win in order to hold onto the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

In the days that have followed, Brendel, 30, has enjoyed being a father as much as possible while making sure he is fully prepared for the greatest opportunity of his professional life.

“It’s definitely a team effort,” Brendel told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “Whenever I go home, I’ll hold the baby for as long as I can. And I help as long as I can when I’m awake.

“But as soon as I go to sleep, it’s on my wife and her helpers.”

Zan and Frankie are doing just fine, Brendel reports. And everyone is benefiting from the helping hands of Zan’s mother and sister.

“Obviously, the first couple weeks are a transition for any parent,” Brendel said. “She’s feeding every two or three hours, and that’s tough on your sleep schedule.

“They’ve allowed me to prepare for the next day, which is really selfless of them. They understand there are big things going on for me, and big things going on for the family right now. I need to be as prepared as I can and be as well-rested as I can.”

This is a professional opportunity that Brendel does not take for granted, as he entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie with the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 after a stellar college career at UCLA. Brendel also had opportunities with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens but failed to catch on.

Over six seasons entering this year, Brendel appeared in 37 games, mostly on special teams, with the Miami Dolphins and 49ers.

Alex Mack’s retirement in the offseason opened the way for Brendel to compete for the starting job. He was given the first opportunity during the offseason program to win the job, and he took control of the situation.

Now, he finds himself as a key member of a dynamic offense that enters an NFC semifinal game against the organization that gave him his first shot.

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Brendel said the Cowboys’ defensive front is not too complicated but they attack with a lot of movement, athleticism and aggression.

That means that Brendel’s job on Sunday will be to make it as simple as possible on his teammates along the offensive line.

Said Brendel, “I have to be able to simplify all that chaos into a couple of calls for the offensive line that allows us to be on the same page and allows us to execute what technique needs to be executed on that play.”

And that is a challenge that is a whole lot easier on a good night of sleep.

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