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San Francisco 49ers likely to release Weston Richburg after latest injury

Dec 8, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg (58) grabs his leg after an injury in the second half against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 49ers won, 48-46. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

When the San Francisco 49ers signed center Weston Richburg to a five-year, $47.5 million contract back in 2018, most skeptics figured they overpaid. He ended up turning in a darn good first two seasons, starting a combined 28 games while helping anchoring one of the better offensive lines in football.

Unfortunately, injuries have caught up to the former New York Giants second-round pick in recent seasons. He missed the entire 2020 season due to a knee injury, leading to speculation about whether the cash-strapped 49ers would move on from him due to salary cap reasons. This latest piece of news makes it a near guarantee.

Read More: 5 San Francisco 49ers trade scenarios for this offseason

San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg undergoes hip surgery

San Francisco 49ers to release Weston Richburg
September 16, 2018; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive guard Weston Richburg (58) before the game against the Detroit Lions at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers defeated the Lions 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

“49ers center Weston Richburg recently had hip surgery, source said, and there is no timetable for his return,” NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported. “After not playing in 2020 due to other injuries and due $8.35M in 2021, it’s likely that he’s played his last down in SF. His future on the field is to be determined.”

As noted, there’s no telling when or if Richburg will return to the field. Based on that report, it’s possible that the 29-year-old former Colorado State star could be done completely.

San Francisco’s offensive line regressed big time with Weston Richburg out of the mix during a disastrous six-win 2020 season for the team.

Their quarterbacks were sacked 39 times and hit the third-most in the NFL. It’s one of the reasons Jimmy Garoppolo dealt with an injury-plagued campaign after leading the 49ers to a shocking Super Bowl appearance the previous season.

Related: Check out the San Francisco 49ers NFL salary cap situation

San Francisco 49ers likely to release Weston Richburg

49ers to release Weston Richburg
May 30, 2018; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg (58) warms up during the organized team activities training event at the SAP Performance Facility in Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Due to a contract restructure last year, Richburg has an $11.46 million cap hit for the 2021 season. The 49ers would save a mere $4.5 million by releasing him outright. If they were to designate the veteran center a post-June 1 cut, that savings would go up to nearly $8 million for next season. Expect it to happen.

San Francisco finds itself in a disastrous cap situation. It currently has $11.6 million to spend under the projected 2021 NFL salary cap with more than 40 internal free agents set to hit the open market. That includes Pro Bowlers Trent Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett.

If the 49ers were to move on from Weston Richburg, expect them to take a long look at veteran Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack. He’s an impending free agent and has already shown interest in reuniting with former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.