Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
What does Richburg’s offseason surgery mean for the 49ers?
While Kyle Shanahan and staff were busy scouting coaching players at the Senior Bowl, general manager John Lynch met with the media in Mobile, Alabama and shared some information regarding the 49ers heading into the 2019 offseason. Of note were two players that were heading under the knife and expected to miss organized team activities (OTAs) this offseason. Rookie cornerback D.J. Reed underwent surgery on his shoulder, while 2018 free agent acquisition, center Weston Richburg, had surgery on his knee and quadricep.
Richburg was in the first year of a five-year, $47.5 million contract he signed after playing his first four seasons with the New York Giants. Despite injuring his knee in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers, Richburg played in 15 games in 2018 but had his worst season as a professional. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished the season with a 51.9 grade, good for 33rd in the NFL at his position. Following his injury, it was clear Richburg struggled in the outside zone running game Shanahan favors; from Week 5 on Richburg posted a run blocking grade above 70 only once.
With Richburg expected to miss the entire offseason program and his rehab extending to the beginning of training camp, it’s more likely that the team brings back free-agent guard Mike Person. Person won the starting right guard position out of training camp and played well throughout the season, posting a 67.2 grade from PFF. The 49ers could likely replace Person’s production at guard, but where his value lies is in his versatility. He’s played all three positions on the interior offensive line in his career and could fill in for Richburg if his rehab extends into training camp. Erik Magnuson is another player to keep an eye on in case Richburg isn’t ready to go and Person signs with another team. In either case San Francisco will likely look to add some depth along the interior line via the free agency or the draft given the uncertainty around Richburg’s knee.
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