Weston Richburg looks ahead to 2019 as stressful first 49ers season ends


Weston Richburg looks ahead to 2019 as stressful first 49ers season ends

SANTA CLARA – Weston Richburg admits it has been a stressful season.

He signed a lucrative long-term contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency. Richburg has put pressure on himself. And although the coaching staff thinks highly of him, an analytics service rates him 30th among qualifying NFL centers.

Throughout the season, the losses have taken a toll, but so has a knee injury that he has battled since Week 4.

Richburg was in pass protection against the Los Angeles Chargers early in the season. As quarterback C.J. Beathard got rid of the ball, right tackle Mike McGlinchey struggled to keep up with edge rusher Melvin Ingram. McGlinchey fell and rolled up on Richburg’s left knee.

Richburg hobbled off, but returned to the game. He was listed as “questionable” for four of the next five weeks. He missed only one game.

“I don’t feel very good,” Richburg said at his locker Friday, as the 49ers prepare for their final game of the season on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

He said he is not sure whether he will require surgery in the offseason.

“We’ll figure out what needs to happen, but it’s been very stressful trying to play games against good talent,” Richburg said.

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Richburg admits to placing a lot of pressure on himself to play up to the five-year contract worth up to $47.5 million he signed with the 49ers after four seasons with the New York Giants.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said. “You’re playing on a bigger contract. You’re playing in a new place, so you want to be perfect. The reality of it is, you’re not going to be perfect. I’m fortunate I came to a place with people like this that make it a more enjoyable experience to work. But we want to win. That’s the thing. That’s what we have to get done.”

Shanahan said Richburg's run-blocking was as good as any center he has coached early in the season. He complimented Richburg's commitment to play through a nagging knee injury. Although Richburg is among the lowest-rated centers according to Pro Football Focus’ grading system, Shanahan said he likes what he has seen.

“I know that I’m happy with him,” Shanahan said. “[That] 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. I think we’ve got a very good center who is only going to get better.”

Shanahan’s offense put a lot on the plate of the team’s center. In addition to being the quarterback of the offensive line with making adjustments, there are difficult physical responsibilities that PFF has no way of recognizing, he said.

“I’m not trying to bash anyone, but there is a lot that’s not known about scheme and assignments," Shanahan said. "We’re given numbers where people who have no idea what O-line play is, judge people off numbers that they see. And, then, opinions are formulated on guys that are sometimes unfair.”

The 49ers’ offensive line appears mostly set for next season, with Richburg, tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, and left guard Laken Tomlinson returning. Right guard Mike Person is scheduled to be a free agent.

“I am excited about that because I think we’ll have a better grasp of the system,” Richburg said. “I’ll be able to understand it better after going through a whole year of games. I think we’ll be able to be a little more creative and be more player-run because we’ll have more experience in it. I am excited about that aspect of it.”

Watch young Broncos fan almost walk off with Jimmy Garoppolo's helmet

Watch young Broncos fan almost walk off with Jimmy Garoppolo's helmet

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will always make time for his fans.

Heck, he'll even make time for opposing fans. Just don't steal his helmet -- it doesn't matter how cute you are.

During the 49ers-Denver Broncos joint practice on Saturday, Jimmy G ran up to some fans and started signing autographs. Including a young Broncos-shirt wearing kid. The quarterback asked him to hold his helmet for a bit so he could sign, and the youngin' almost ran off with it before Garoppolo asked for it back:

"I need that back, though," Garoppolo laughed.

All in good fun.

[RELATED: Lynch confident Garoppolo will have successful return]

But the man's got to keep that helmet.

It would have been fun to watch him try and run off with it though.

Richard Sherman, 49ers defense 'light years ahead' of last season

Richard Sherman, 49ers defense 'light years ahead' of last season

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The day after Richard Sherman praised both teams for their lack of physical conflict, the re-energized 49ers defense got under the skin of the Broncos and the result was a sideline-clearing skirmish.

“If it’s clean like it was today, two teams just competing, getting after it and perfecting their craft against guys who are different, not all the fights and excess then it’s fine,” Sherman said after the first joint practice in Colorado on Friday,

Unfortunately, it got a little chippy between the 49ers' defense and the Broncos' offense during the second day of team drills.

There was pretty big hit by the 49ers defense that resulted in a tackle for a loss and tempers started to flare. The ensuing play was an incomplete pass from Drew Lock to rookie tight end Troy Fumagalli. Marcell Harris went flying across the field as a result of an apparent blind side shove and both groups tussled on the field for over 30 seconds.

Two Broncos players, receiver Brendan Langley and tight end Bug Howard were ejected from practice. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he didn’t see the melee but like anything else, he will watch the film to make sure his players were not the instigators.

“Yeah, they got into a little scuffle over there,” Shanahan said. “I actually wasn’t on the field, so I didn’t see much of it. By the time I got over there, it was pretty much broken up. I know a couple guys got sent in. I was told none of our guys threw punches, so when I see the tape, we’ll see if they were telling the truth. Hopefully, they were.”

While the 49ers' defense may not have started the fight, they decidedly are more confident this season.

“It’s light years ahead of last year,” Sherman said. “I think it’s just young guys being veterans this year. I think the experience that a lot of guys playing a lot of downs last year gave them the confidence they needed to take the next steps.

“That’s why you see our twos and threes way ahead of where they were last year and our ones light years ahead of where they were, especially with the talent. Even when you’re missing Dee Ford and [Nick] Bosa right now, we’re still making plays, we’re getting the rush, we still have the intensity."

Sherman also noted how the addition of Kwon Alexander’s high level of energy has affected second-year linebacker Fred Warner in a positive way.

“It’s huge,” Sherman said. “You see it because they are tone setters. They’re in the middle they are just about on every tackle. They can feel every pass play every run play and when they’re bringing energy I think it emulates throughout the defense. The D-line feels it, the secondary feels it. Their intensity can change the day.”

[RELATED: Why Lynch is confident Jimmy G will have successful return]

When asked who started the fight, Sherman smiled.

"Good question. We'll just say them. It was them."