SF 49ers free agency: 5 role players Niners must re-sign in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 2: SF 49ers Center Ben Garland
Perhaps no position has epitomized the SF 49ers’ struggles along their offensive line this year than center, where the initial idea was to have the veteran, Weston Richburg, back after suffering a serious knee injury in 2019.
But Richburg hasn’t returned yet, which left his backup, Ben Garland, in the role he filled late last year as the fill-in starter. Except Garland has been sidelined on injured reserve with a calf injury, forcing the Niners to experiment with backups like Hroniss Grasu and Daniel Brunskill instead, the latter moving over from right guard.
Those efforts haven’t exactly been great.
Garland could return later this season. But with Richburg still out, the possibility of his own hefty contract opens up the possibility of the starter being a cap casualty in 2021.
If that’s the case, and even if it’s not, retaining Garland on a cheaper deal suddenly seems much more important.
Garland isn’t the same caliber of player as Richburg is. But the former is a quality backup and could easily hold the line, should San Francisco elect to move on from Richburg and/or decides to go with a younger, cheaper option via the 2021 NFL Draft.