Long hair is out; a buzz cut is in.
In addition, the Appalachian State offensive lineman picked by the 49ers in the fifth-round (No. 163 overall) of last year’s draft has bulked up with good weight.
He’s still around the 295-300-pound range these days, but Kilgore said his focus on core training while back in his hometown of Kingsport, Tenn., this offseason has really made the difference in his appearance.
It’s for good reason. The new-look Kilgore is focused on taking claim of the open right guard position on the 49ers offensive line after veteran Adam Snyder signed with the Arizona Cardinals earlier this offseason.
“I’m going to do what I can to earn that spot,” Kilgore told on 49ers.com on Thursday after working out at team headquarters.
Kilgore is one of many young 49ers players making use of their ability to lift weights and condition at the 49ers facility.
In Kilgore’s mind, it’s making a world of a difference in his offseason preparation.
“Last year with the lockout we were at a disadvantage because we didn’t know what to expect,” said Kilgore, who was active for one game with the 49ers as a rookie. “Coming in a couple weeks before we actually have to be here is a great opportunity for us young guys.”
In Kilgore’s case, it’s a chance for the young lineman to increase his chances of being considered as San Francisco’s starting right guard in 2012.
“With nobody set in that position,” said Kilgore, “it’s a great opportunity to step up and improve your game.”
Kilgore has a great of idea of how to play the position based on his close relationship with Snyder, who took him under his wing throughout the 2011 season.
“I’ve nothing but respect for that man,” Kilgore said of Snyder. “He was a team player, a great leader, a friend. It was very difficult to see him go but that’s the nature of the game, it’s the nature of the business.”
Snyder’s departure opens up competition amongst young 49ers linemen on the roster which includes another close friend of Kilgore, fellow 2011 draft pick Mike Person, who was selected by the 49ers in the seventh-round (No. 239 overall) out of Montana State.
Kilgore looks forward to competing for the right guard position with a versatile player like Person. He also understands it comes with the territory.
“Mike’s the type of player that can play any position,” Kilgore pointed out.
As for competing with a pal for a coveted starting spot, “It’s the nature of the game,” Kilgore said. “You’ve got to be competitive with anybody. When there’s an open position, you’re competing with anybody, fighting for a starting position.
“It’s not only with Mike, but with any new guys coming in. We’re all fighting for that position.”
In addition to Person, the 49ers have reportedly brought in a couple of veteran guards for free agency visits. The team also signed guard Garret Chisolm (6-foot-6, 299 pounds) to a future contract earlier this offseason. Chisolm spent 2011 on the practice squad of the Baltimore Ravens. Then, there’s seven draft picks the team holds beginning April 26, one of which could be an offensive lineman.
Kilgore can’t control the players he competes with; he’s set on continuing to get his body to handle the rigors of a 16-game NFL schedule.
When the season wrapped up, Kilgore went back to Kingsport to spend time with loved ones and to work out. There, he worked at a gym that specialized in core training. He also spent time with his high school and college teams.
Kilogre’s reasoning was simple.
“Just be around football, no matter what level, just being around it and going through it,” he explained. “So when I do come back here, it’s not new to me. I’ve been doing it.”
Because of his dedication, Kilgore feels faster and stronger when training at 49ers headquarters.
The core training happened to take place in the best possible offseason to do it, too. With Nike taking over as the league’s official uniform supplier, the 49ers uniforms are much tighter for offensive linemen.
Not to worry, Kilgore should be ready for it. The same goes for some of his teammates.
“I was giving Alex (Smith) a hard time today, he’s making fast look faster now.”
Trading barbs with the starting quarterback is one of the perks of being around the facility, but in the end, Kilgore knows the real reason for his presence.
“I’m glad to be back and excited for the competition for a new starting role. I take it with open arms and it’ll be great to see who gets it.”