The new league year is officially underway, and the San Francisco 49ers have finalized several additions. The team announced shortly after the open of business that they have signed offensive lineman Weston Richburg and running back Jerrick McKinnon. Richburg signed a five-year contract, while McKinnon signed a four-year contract.
General manager John Lynch offered some thoughts on both additions:
“Jerick and Weston were both at the top of our priority list heading into free agency, and being able to lock them in quickly was important to us,” said General Manager John Lynch. “Both men embody the 49ers spirit and check almost all the boxes on the list of characteristics we look for in a player. Most importantly, they are passionate about the game, have a desire to be great and are dedicated to doing what’s necessary to win in this league.
“We see Weston as one of the top young interior offensive linemen in the NFL. His athleticism, intelligence and attitude are a perfect fit for our scheme. Jerick has proven to be an extremely versatile football player whose speed, elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability make him a very difficult matchup for defenses. We can’t wait to get them on the field with their teammates and coaches later this spring.”
C/G Weston Richburg
We’re still sorting this one out. Richburg played guard his first year in the NFL, and then center the next three. He was clearly better as a center than a guard, but the 49ers also extended Daniel Kilgore last month for three seasons. The 49ers have made it clear they will look for upgrades at every position, and this could be a sign that has come to fruition for the center position. If Richburg plays center, Kilgore could be competing at the wide open guard positions, or simply be situated as the utility interior lineman. This could play out in a host of ways. It is worth noting that the 49ers signed Jeremy Kerley to a three-year contract extension last year, only to cut him at the end of training camp.
RB Jerick McKinnon
The signing was not surprising, but the reported numbers (up to $30 million over four years) left us with our tongues wagging. We are waiting word on deal structure, but the 49ers see him as a big-time impact option. His athleticism is off the charts, and we can expect to see him get a lot work in both the passing and rushing attacks. He has struggled to break out with the Minnesota Vikings, but it is going to be fascinating to see just how Kyle Shanahan utilizes him in his offensive scheme.