49ers roster 2023: Spencer Burford finally gets his shot to shine

San Francisco 49ers right guard Spencer Burford (74)
San Francisco 49ers right guard Spencer Burford (74) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

A year after platooning at right guard, Spencer Burford has locked down the starting job for the 49ers and should see a dramatic rise in overall impact.

The San Francisco 49ers just seem to keep hitting on late-round NFL Draft picks, and the 2022 class certainly had its share of gems from day three.

Of course, fans will highlight quarterback Brock Purdy, the final selection of that year's draft who went on to carry the Niners all the way into the NFC Championship game.

Selected three rounds earlier, former UTSA offensive lineman Spencer Burford should arguably be viewed as the more impactful player from that year's class, at least in terms of doing so from the very start of the regular season.

San Francisco grabbed Burford in Round 4 at No. 134 overall, and the lineman's story about how it all went down on draft day is worth checking out:

Spencer Burford's draft day story is one for the ages 😂🌮

Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Yet that's not why we're here.

With some uncertainty at right guard his rookie season, Burford ended up getting a quasi-starter's role after impressing during training camp, ultimately platooning with a veteran, Daniel Brunskill, at right guard for the entirety of the 2022 campaign.

Heading into 2023, Brunskill is gone via free agency. The starting job is Burford's alone.

Will Spencer Burford start for 49ers in 2023?

According to Pro Football Focus, Burford saw a total of 744 offensive snaps his rookie season and surrendered four sacks, five quarterback hits and was slapped with five penalties.

Those aren't horrid numbers, particularly for a rookie, and 49ers offensive line coach Chris Foerster detailed why the right guard spot is now effectively Burford's to lose this season:

"I said, "Spence, last year you spent split time with Dan [Brunskill] and it was good for you. And I would’ve hoped during the year he would’ve taken over the position, but he never really did." ...

This year, I think [Burford] is more prepared for the whole process. He knows what it is. I think he’s ready to make that step and I say everything to this point as much as you can tell from this, he looks prepared and ready to go."

With Foerster's endorsement, none of the relatively minor O-line additions the Niners made should threaten Burford's chances at starting.

How much will Spencer Burford earn with 49ers in 2023?

One of the other benefits from hitting on late-round draft picks is the fact they won't be too expensive for a significant amount of time.

As much as four years, potentially. And five, if a team tosses in a franchise tag.

For Burford, who is entering year two of his four-year rookie deal, San Francisco will pay him up to $1.038 million this season, per Over the Cap, with $504,042 of it guaranteed if the team elected to part ways with him.

The 49ers won't, though.

What should fans expect from Spencer Burford in 2023?

Burford splitting time with Brunskill likely accomplished two things. First, it allowed the then-rookie to get some confidence without having to be subjected to the full rigors of a 17-game season.

Second, Burford could take the time to fill into his frame a bit more.

According to multiple reports from offseason workouts, Burford looked far more imposing, physically, as if he spent the entire offseason working out and building functional muscle. That'll bode well for him, as part of the platoon with Brunskill was to avoid Burford getting worn down by a lengthy season and insufficient conditioning.

That, plus a better understanding of the whole 49ers offense, should translate into a significantly better season from Burford overall in 2023.

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