The 49ers have their starting center back.
Weston Richburg on Monday was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list and practiced with the team for the first time. Richburg had missed all of training camp because he was going through knee rehabilitation after playing with an injury through most of the 2018 season, his first with the 49ers after signing a free-agent deal and coming over from the New York Giants.
Richburg had surgery in January to repair a torn tendon. He suffered the injury in a game in September, and played with it the rest of the season. Though Richburg had been rated one of the NFL’s best centers, his performance suffered in his first year with his new team.
Now, he’s ready to play again and get back to a higher level of performance, though he says it’s been a long road.
“I was on crutches with (my leg) locked straight for a month and a half, which takes a toll on the muscle,” Richburg told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. “So it takes a lot to work it back. So it’s been a long one.”
Ben Garland had been working with the first-team offense in Richburg’s place, and will resume a reserve role during the regular season.
If Richburg is healthy, the 49ers offensive line will receive a big boost. As center, he calls the blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage, and his ability to pull, move and block downfield or on the edges was why the 49ers signed him. He wasn’t able in 2018 to be as effective as the 49ers had hoped.
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan hopes to get Richburg onto the field for a few snaps, at least, Thursday night in the team’s final exhibition game against the Chargers.
“If he’s good enough to go with some people, then we’ll get him off that so at least he can take some snaps with our quarterback and get a guy in front of him instead of just a bag and a trainer,” said Shanahan.
Thursday’s game is set for 7 p.m. at Levi’s Stadium.