Injuries have officially derailed the once-promising career of center Weston Richburg. San Franciso 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has confirmed to reporters that the veteran offensive lineman intends to retire this offseason, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Richburg, 29, missed all of 2020 with a plethora of injuries, undergoing both knee and shoulder surgeries as well as a hip procedure, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Kentucky native also suffered a torn patellar tendon in Week 14 of the 2019 season, landing him on injured reserve and stripping him from the Niners’ late-season run and eventual appearance in Super Bowl LIV.
The 49ers restructured Richburg’s contract back in March to help create north of $6.87 million in cap space, per Rapoport. San Francisco originally inked the center to a massive five-year, $47.5 million contract back in 2018 following a mostly brilliant four-year run with the New York Giants.
The latest Giants news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Giants newsletter here!
Richburg Appeared Destined to be a Mainstay Along NY’s O-Line
A second-round pick for the Giants in 2014, the Colorado State product started 50 of his 51 games appearances over his four seasons in East Rutherford. As a rookie Richburg struggled, playing out of position at guard. However, he was converted back to his natural position of center ahead of his second pro season, where he quickly blossomed. Richburg didn’t allow a single sack in 2015, posting a PFF grade of 83.2 and landing at No. 89 on the analytic site’s Top 101 players for that season. He followed up his breakout campaign with yet another sound showing in 2016, earning a PFF mark of 78.0.
Unfortunately from this point on is where the injury bug began to strike Richburg. Readily available over his first three NFL seasons — missing just one of his 48 possible games — Richburg missed all but four games in 2017 due to a concussion.
Still, his brilliance over the previous two seasons was enough to net him a lucrative deal with San Francisco in free agency. For the most part, Richburg quickly regained his typical durable form, appearing in (and starting) 28 of his first 29 games during his Niners tenure. However, the aforementioned torn patellar tendon he suffered at the later end of 2019 had since kept Richburg off the gridiron for 17 months before he ultimately decided to hang up his cleats.
Nick Gates’ Placement in PFF’s Preseason Center Rankings
After moving on from Richburg following the 2017 season, it took the Giants quite some time to find a viable replacement for him at the center of their offensive line. After shuffling through names such as Jon Halapio, Brett Jones and Spencer Pulley over recent years, the team believes they’ve finally found the man for the job in 25-year-old Nick Gates.
A former undrafted free agent out of Nebraska, Gates impressed while moonlighting at both tackle and guard in 2019. While a full-time move to center in 2020 led to his overall marks taking a sizeable dip, his budding play towards the latter end of the year has both PFF and Giants fans optimistic he can take a leap forward in 2021.
20. NICK GATES, NEW YORK GIANTS
There was plenty of reason to be optimistic about Gates heading into the 2020 season following an impressive showing in several spot starts at right tackle and right guard in 2019. He did earn a starting job the following offseason, but it came at center. It’s a position that Gates hadn’t played in either college or the NFL. His PFF grade dropped from 77.0 to 59.7 as a result, but he was still far from the worst starter on New York’s offensive line. The Giants will hope for a step forward in Year 2 at the position.
- Ex-Giants WR, Former Super Bowl Champ Inks Deal With NFC Foe
- Newly-Acquired Offensive Weapon Dubbed Giants’ ‘Best-Kept Secret’
- Sterling Shepard Sends Subtle Shot at Former Giants Head Coaches
- Patriots Sign Giants Defender, 19-Game Career Starter
For more Giants content, follow @VinnySomma on Twitter.