Weston Richburg was one of the 49ers’ biggest investments after the 2017 season. The former New York Giants center signed a five-year deal to come west, and was touted as a difference-maker. His knowledge and ability to move and pull would be a big plus for the entire offense.
But Year 1 of that five-year agreement — that could pay Richburg as much as $9.5 million per season — didn’t work out as well as expected.
Richburg suffered a knee injury in the fourth week of the season and had to play through the nagging injury for the rest of the schedule. His play suffered. By the end of the season, Richburg ranked 45th among the 50 centers graded by the analytic website Pro Football Focus, noted Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee.
But 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan believes in Richburg. The troubles he experienced in 2018, said Shanahan, mean the 49ers can look forward to a big step forward in his play in 2019 when the knee is better.
“I know he started off this year at an extremely high level,” Shanahan said, after the end of this past season, when the 49ers were 4-12. “I thought he was doing as well in the run game and stuff at the beginning of the year as anyone I’ve had. Had a number of setbacks with his knee injury that he’s battled through. I think he only missed one game because of it, which is a credit to him because it’s been tough for him to practice for a lot of this time.
"… I think it’ll help him a lot more being a year in our offense, too, just coming back next year.”