Free agency: 5 mistakes SF 49ers must not make in 2021

Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack (51) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2: SF 49ers can’t afford to pass on Alex Mack for Weston Richburg

Back in 2018, San Francisco made then-free agent Weston Richburg one of the league’s highest-paid centers, offering him a five-year, $47.5 million deal. And while the SF 49ers offensive line has generally been good enough when he’s been on the field, the problem is Richburg hasn’t been healthy enough to warrant that contract.

He missed the latter part of 2019 with a serious knee injury, which kept him out of the Niners’ Super Bowl run and carried over throughout the entirety of 2020.

Fortunately, if one wants to call it that, Richburg doesn’t have an injury guarantee worked into his contract. If San Francisco can somehow wait until after June 1 to cut him, it’d save nearly $8 million in cap space against $3.5 million in dead money. A pre-June 1 cut would still help, though, netting $4.5 million in cap savings with $7 million in dead money.

His would-be replacement? The veteran center, Alex Mack, who has familiarity with Kyle Shanahan’s offense from their time together with the Atlanta Falcons.

Mack, 35 years old, already suggested the idea of playing for Shanahan again would be “enticing,” and the SF 49ers would be silly to pass up the idea of going after a player of his ilk and who has missed just two games over the last six seasons.

If the opportunity for the Niners to move on from Richburg while grabbing Mack is there, they’d better jump on it.