The 49ers’ official offseason program begins Monday. For the first two weeks, players will participate only in strength and conditioning programs.
Players who are coming off injuries will only do rehabilitation work. It’s still a while until players and coaches will run drills and scrimmages.
Several 49ers are still a long way from participating fully.
One is center Weston Richburg, 27, who was signed a year ago to a pricey five-year contract that could pay him as much as $47.5 million. He played his first four seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants.
Richburg suffered a knee injury early in the 2018 season. Though he continued to play – he started 15 games – his mobility and effectiveness were limited. Richburg had surgery in January on his knee and quadriceps and is not expected to be ready to participate fully until training camp in July.
During his time in New York, Richburg was considered by many to be terrific, smart and mobile center who was a leader and standout in both run- and pass-blocking. His ability to come back fully off rehabilitation will be a key for the 49ers offense in 2019.
Richburg was among the lowest-graded centers of 2018 by the analytic website Pro Football Focus, but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said in December that he’s “happy” with Richburg in his lineup based on what he saw from him in his first season in the Bay Area and how he fought through his injury to contribute.
“I think we’ve got a very good center who is only going to get better,” Shanahan said.
For his part, Richburg is working to be ready for training camp. He believes that he, tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and guards Laken Tomlinson and Mike Person – who signed a three-year extension in March – will be much better after playing together for the first time last season.
“I think we’ll have a better grasp of the system,” Richburg told a reporter. “I’ll be able to understand it better after going through a whole year of games. I think we’ll be able to be a little more creative and be more player-run because we’ll have more experience in it. I am excited about that aspect of it.”
But first, he’ll need to go through a complete rehabilitation and strengthening schedule. Then he’ll get the chance to show the 49ers what he can do when fully healthy.