No. 5: Center Weston Richburg
The Niners lost veteran center Weston Richburg to a season-ending knee injury in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints, so it’s fair enough to put him last on the list, given the 49ers enjoyed his services for the vast majority of the regular season.
Still, Richburg was enjoying a highly productive campaign in his second year in San Francisco before the injury, anchoring arguably the most important position along Kyle Shanahan’s offensive line.
One can only wonder if the 49ers’ offensive efforts in the Super Bowl would have been better if Richburg avoided the injury.
Backup center Ben Garland played well enough in Richburg’s stead down the stretch and into the postseason. But Garland is also a pending free agent. Even if San Francisco re-signs him, which seems like a strong possibility, there’s little doubting the Niners O-line improves significantly with Richburg in the lineup.
The good news is Richburg feels like he’ll be ready for the start of training camp this summer, which should help get him acclimated back to full-time starting duties by the beginning of the regular season.