NINER NUGGETS
Niner Report|August 2021
Richburg does 49ers right in retirement

Richburg does 49ers right in retirement

There will be two ways to look at Weston Richburg’s brief but meaningful tenure with the 49ers.

He was one of the most costly free-agent buys in team history. But he also anchored the middle of an offensive line that led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, Richburg never made it to that Super Bowl with the rest of the team. Nor did he ever play another snap for the 49ers after the December injury in 2019 when Richburg sustained a torn patellar tendon during San Francisco’s wild 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints that helped the 49ers land home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Richburg announced his retirement in June after missing the entire 2020 season due to knee and shoulder ailments. He underwent hip surgery earlier this year that helped hasten his decision to retire — Richburg’s third surgery since joining the 49ers.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of this game and I’ve reached a point where my body won’t allow me to continue playing and competing at a high level,” Richburg said. “I consider myself extremely blessed to have played in this league and am so grateful for the experiences over the last seven years. I was able to play some good football all over the country and was fortunate enough to finish my career with the greatest franchise in sports.”

Richburg had played at a Pro Bowl level throughout the season before that debilitating 2019 injury, beginning to pay dividends for the 49ers on the blockbuster five-year, $47.5 million deal he signed with San Francisco that made him the team’s prized acquisition in 2018 free agency.

But Richburg was damaged goods. After starting 47 of a possible 48 games for the New York Giants after being New York’s second-round draft pick in 2014, Richburg missed 12 games due to a concussion during his contract year of 2017.

Needing help in their line interior in their constant quest to build a winner, the 49ers gave Richburg the big money anyway. He fought through knee and quad injuries to start 15 games in his 2018 49ers debut. Richburg was back in top form a year later before the knee injury that would end his career and give the 49ers considerably less value on their huge investment.

But Richburg did the 49ers right in retirement. He purposely waited until June 2 to announce his decision, generating a salary-cap savings of more than $10 million for the 49ers over the next two seasons.

By waiting until the June 1 designation point, Richburg’s retirement will generate $1.075 million in salary-cap savings for the 49ers this year and an additional $9.15 million in space in 2022. That’s money and cap space San Francisco will need in coming years to re-sign some of its top young rising stars as they near free agency.

“Weston was someone who made not only our offense, but our entire team better,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “He led by example through his detailed approach and the toughness in which he played the game. He was a tremendous player for our organization and will be missed both on the field and in the locker room.”

Lifetime achievement award for Turner

Bobby Turner has earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s top assistant coaches ever since he began working with running backs for the Denver Broncos three decades ago.

The Pro Football Writers of America honored Turner in June for his distinguished service by naming him as recipient of the Paul Zimmerman Award, given for lifetime achievement as a NFL assistant coach. Turner is one of 18 assistants in NFL history to receive the award.

Turner, 72, certainly has earned it during his five seasons working with San Francisco running backs. The 49ers have had one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL since Turner joined the team in 2017 as part of new coach Kyle Shanahan’s first San Francisco staff.

Turner has been working with Shanahan and pumping out top-10 rushing attacks for his dynamic offensive system ever since Shanahan became offensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins in 2010.

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