The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the 2018 season and they have begun their work to prepare for 2019 free agency and the NFL draft. The coaches and scouts will be in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl, but there is plenty more to be done as they get ready to build on a disappointing 2018 campaign. We’ll be breaking down plenty of what that means, but in the meantime, we wanted to take a look back at the season that was for the 49ers.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury sent things south, but there is plenty still to assess. We are going to take a look at every notable addition and provide a forum for grading how that signing, trade, or draft pick worked out.
How acquired: Signed five-year, $47.5 million contract
It was a rough season for the 49ers most expensive free agent addition. The center is a critical position, but it has proven to be especially so for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Alex Mack got the Cleveland Browns offense going in 2014, and then was huge in his second season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. I don’t know if any fans thought Richburg could be Mack in this offense, but the 49ers clearly thought he could be the guy they needed in the middle of their offensive line.
Instead, he struggled to get much of anything going, and a knee injury in Week 4 hampered him the rest if the season. Pro Football Focus ranked him 32nd among centers in both pass blocking and run blocking. He gave up the third most pressures on the season, ranked 35th in PFF’s pass blocking efficiency stat, and was seventh in penalties committed.
Heading into the final game of the season, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked what the team has gotten from Richburg this season.
“We’ve gotten very good center play. I know he started off this year at an extreme high level. 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 he’s starting to get healthier, which he’s finishing stronger than the little stretch he had to the beginning. I think it’ll help him a lot more being a year in our offense, too, just coming back next year. Hopefully, with the help of him, find out a way to keep him healthier throughout the year.”
Someone brought up his poor ratings in PFF’s assessments. His answer was about what you might expect.
“I’m not sure because I don’t really know how they grade it. So, I couldn’t tell you that. But, I know that I’m happy with him. Doesn’t mean that there’s not room to grow. I think he could play better, too, especially the way he started out the year. We’ve got to find out a way to make that last throughout the whole year. But no, I think we’ve got a very good center who is only going to get better.”
I wouldn’t expect Shanahan to dog his center, but it struck me as a rough year for the most part. We’ll be doing some more film analysis on it, so maybe we’ll be surprised. But there seems plenty of room for improvement in year two. Will we see that with a full year and another offseason in the system, or will this end up being a big financial bust? Richburg isn’t going anywhere for 2019, but he’s got some work to do to avoid being a roster casualty beyond that.
How do you grade the Weston Richburg signing?
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