Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

PFF lists center Weston Richburg as 49ers’ top cut candidate

Feb 25, 2021 at 12:26 PM--

Salary cap analyst Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus went through the exercise of picking each NFL team's top cut candidate this offseason. For the San Francisco 49ers, he named an offensive lineman who spent all of last season on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list — center Weston Richburg.

With over $13 million in projected salary-cap space, a post-June 1 cut of Richburg would save the team nearly $8 million while creating about $3.5 million in dead money.

Spielberger did consider listing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but general manager John Lynch's comments on Wednesday during the Eye Test for Two podcast shifted the focus to the offensive lineman. Lynch said there was no doubt that Garoppolo would be the team's quarterback in September, assuming he is healthy.

"The best answer here is frankly QB Jimmy Garoppolo, but San Francisco appears to be running it back with him under center at least one more time," noted Spielberger.

As for his actual cut candidate, the analyst explained why the move makes sense.

"Richburg has not played to the level of his contract after signing a top-of-the-market deal to join the 49ers," wrote Spielberger, "and Kyle Shanahan was able to plug and play other guys without too much trouble, as Richburg missed the entire 2020 campaign.

"The 49ers have a ton of pending free agents, most notably fellow offensive lineman Trent Williams, who will likely look to become the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL this offseason."

What would be the 49ers' plan if they move forward without Richburg? Ben Garland attempted to fill in for Richburg this past season but played in just five games before landing on injured reserve with a calf strain.

Impending free agent Alex Mack recently called the idea of reuniting with Shanahan "enticing," so he might be a legitimate option to replace Richburg.

"Kyle's an incredible coach," Mack told NBC Sports Bay Area. "He's an incredible coach, great person, strong motivator, and runs an offense that is something that I'd know really well, and that I'd perform very well in. That said, they're a very enticing thing, and I'm not sure what's exactly legal to say beyond that, and we'll just see what happens in free agency. It will be interesting."

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