San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan he’s expected to be back in time for training camp this season after suffering a knee injury late in 2019.
The San Francisco 49ers dealt with plenty of significant injuries over the course of 2019, and few positions suffered more than the offensive line.
Both tackles, Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, missed significant amounts of time. But arguably the biggest loss was center Weston Richburg, who suffered a torn patellar tendon in his knee during the Niners’ win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 14.
Richburg subsequently landed on injured reserve, forcing San Francisco to go with his backup, Ben Garland, for the remainder of the year, into the playoffs and all the way through Super Bowl LIV.
Garland held his own well enough. But Richburg was a clear upgrade, especially over the course of 2019.
Fortunately, signs appear to be pointing to the 28-year-old Richburg returning in time for training camp. At least according to Richburg, who said as much to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan this week.
“Should be back in training camp,” Richburg said. “I’ll miss the offseason stuff but training camp should be a go.”
Richburg went a similar situation a year ago, albeit under different circumstances, suffering both knee and back injuries that required offseason surgery. The initial hope was Richburg would return in time for training camp, although the recovery period kept him out until the very latest in the preseason.
Although that apparently benefited the 49ers, as Garland ended up seeing a lot of the first-team reps both in training camp and the preseason. He surely needed those during San Francisco’s playoff run.
Garland is a free agent heading into 2020, although one would guess the Niners would like to bring him back after performing adequately enough in Richburg’s stead. And now the push to re-sign Garland should increase, even though Richburg looks to be on track to return fully healthy in time for camp this summer.
“I’m pumped,” Richburg continued. “I’m fixing to go lift right now. That’s all I do.”
San Francisco will want to work Richburg back slowly, of course, which seemed to work out well enough last season. Richburg started 13 games, after all, before suffering a completely unrelated injury.
And while Garland is an adequate replacement, there’s little doubting the 49ers offensive line performed much, much better with the starter in place.