The San Francisco 49ers surprised their fan base trading long time center Daniel Kilgore to Miami for a swap of seventh round picks. The move ultimately happened as a result of the team being able to sign former Giants center Weston Richburg to a sizable contract. While Kilgore’s play was on the rise with the addition of Jimmy Garoppolo to the mix, Richburg is a an upgrade. Kyle Shanahan spoke about the importance of the center position and what having an elite talent there can do for an offense:
When you have a center at the level of what you’re talking about with Alex [Mack] or with Weston, it changes a lot of things, things that people don’t totally realize. Sometimes you have to get in certain personnel groupings to help someone have an angle to a MIKE linebacker so you can help your center out with the guard. Sometimes you go into one-back. Now a WIL’s going to walk outside the box and your MIKE is a little, the angles aren’t as good, but you’ve got a center who can reach someone on his own and doesn’t need the help. So, it allows you to do a bunch of different stuff. It puts some more pressure on that player instead of always taking it off. It really helps the versatility in everything you can do. Not just at the center, but what your guards and tackles can do on other positions. It really helps solidify the whole O-Line. I feel that’s usually where it starts. There’s a lot of good players, but when you have a difference maker at that position, is what I’ve found and I’ve experienced through my career, it’s been a lot easier to run an offense.
Richburg played in a different type of scheme with the Giants but Shanahan debunked the importance of that.
I don’t think it’s much. It’s a different system, but you can see body movement and how they play. We have a lot of tape on Weston. Yeah, schemes are different, but there’s a number of clips you can watch the center reach a shade, pass-protection no scheme is different. It’s about blocking the guy in front of you. So, you can see how people pass protect. Run game is always harder, but there’s enough clips in there and it’s about body movement and how they block and sustaining, being able to sustain your blocks. Weston’s done that in every scheme. He did it in college. That’s why he was a high draft pick. I think he’s gotten better throughout his time in the NFL and I feel very fortunate that we have a center of his caliber on our team
John Lynch addressed the competition in the league for Richburg and the timing of signing him and subsequent trade of Kilgore.
Yeah, you study these guys for a long time knowing that he’s going to be free. But, we also knew that there was going to be great competition for him. We had to compete vigorously for him and there were a lot of suitors. I think with both these guys, when people talk about the compensation, well that means there were a lot of suitors and there were for each of these guys and so we knew that would be the case.
I think when you look at our division, you better be good in the interior. And when we had an opportunity, as Kyle said, to get the guy that was the top guy in our mind of all the options in the interior we felt like we had to jump. And then, if you look at the deal, we swapped seventh round picks. It was more about finding the right place for Danny and a great opportunity for him because of what he’s given to us. Fortunately, that presented itself with Miami and I think he’s in a good spot there. Like Kyle said, talking to Adam, they’ve got great plans for him and that makes us happy.
It appears as though the team did what what they could to make sure that Kilgore went to a positive situation, as they did with NaVorro Bowman, allowing them input on their destination.
Richburg who is still figuring out the logistics of moving all of his belongings to the opposite coast expressed excitement to be a part of what is brewing in Santa Clara.
Watching them from a distance last year, you could see there was excitement. Even when things weren’t going well, there was still excitement. Surrounded by some guys I talked to today talked about how it didn’t feel like they were losing games and then when [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] comes in and they go on that run, it just looked like there was a lot of great things ahead and that’s how I feel being here today, is excited about what’s in store for us and what we can do as an offense and then as a team together.
According to The Athletic’s David Lombardi, Richburg called Alex Mack when the 49ers became an option. Mack didn’t even let him finish the question and told him to do it. Mack and Shanahan worked together first when both were with the Browns in 2014 and then two years later with the Falcons in 2016. Shanahan’s valuing of what a talented center can help you do is recognized by Richburg. He says it’s great to be in place where you’re appreciated.
Richburg got most excited when discussing his new quarterback who he met at the Senior Bowl.
I just spent 4 years with Eli and that was fantastic. This is a little different. Eli is like 30 years older than I am. (laughing) That’s my little jab to him. This will be cool because we are the same age. I got to meet him at the Senior Bowl. I’m just excited to start something special with the guy. He basically just got here, six games or whatever. I’m just tickled to be a part that, work together with him and try to make something special out of it.
Maybe even more importantly, Richburg and Joe Staley share representation. Richburg is looking forward to working with him stating simply “his resume speaks for itself.”