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Richburg retirement expected to fit Burgess onto 49ers

NBC Sports

The 49ers increased their depth on their 90-man roster with the addition of journeyman linebacker James Burgess.

Burgess will officially sign a one-year contract next week, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday.

The likely corresponding roster move will be the official retirement of center Weston Richburg — a development 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed this week — after Tuesday, June 1. 

The timing of Richburg’s post-June 1 retirement will save the 49ers $1.075 million on the 2021 salary cap, according to OverTheCap.com.

The 49ers signed Richburg to a five-year, $47.5 million contract on the first day of free agency in 2018. He battled through injuries his first season and required significant surgery to repair his quadriceps in the offseason. Richburg was playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2019 before sustaining a devastating knee injury.

His knee and shoulder kept him sidelined all of 2020, leading to his decision to retire at the age of 29.

Burgess faces an uphill climb to make the 49ers’ 53-man roster. The team’s top linebackers are Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.

The 49ers also signed veteran Nathan Gerry to a one-year deal in the offseason. Gerry spent his first four NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gerry did not take part in practice last week during organized team activities in Santa Clara. He was seen on a side field, wearing a sleeve on his left leg, and going through rehabilitation and conditioning work with the 49ers’ staff.

 

Jonas Griffith, who spent time on the 49ers’ practice squad last season, as well as undrafted rookies Justin Hilliard (Ohio State) and Elijah Sullivan (Kansas State) are also on the 49ers’ 90-man roster.

The backup linebackers must earn their way onto the team’s regular-season roster through special teams.

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Burgess, 27, has bounced around the NFL over the past six seasons.

Since signing with the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie from Louisville in 2016, Burgess has bounced around to the Chargers, Ravens, Jaguars, Browns, Dolphins, Jets, Falcons and Packers.

He has played in every season since 2017. He saw 17 games of action with Cleveland in 2017 and ’18. Burgess played 10 games with the Jets in 2019, and last year he appeared in four games with the Packers after being signed off the Falcons practice squad. 

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