Tagged in: San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg retires from NFL, cites injuries

Almost three years ago, the San Francisco 49ers made Weston Richburg the highest-paid center in NFL history. On Wednesday, Richburg’s time with the Niners came to an end, as he declared his retirement from the NFL.

Richburg had an injury-plagued stint with the 49ers that culminated in his missing the entire 2020 season because of a lingering shoulder injury and his continued efforts to recover from a torn right patellar tendon suffered in Week 14 of the 2019 season.

“I consider myself extremely blessed to have played in this league and am so grateful for the experiences over the last seven years,” Richburg said in a statement released by the 49ers.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of this game and I’ve reached a point where my body won’t allow me to continue playing and competing at a high level. I was able to play some good football all over the country and was fortunate enough to finish my career with the greatest franchise in sports. From top to bottom, the 49ers organization is comprised of some of the best men, women and athletes I’ve ever been around. To be just a small part of an NFC Championship and Super Bowl run is something I will never forget.”

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As it turned out, that Week 14 contest versus the New Orleans Saints was the final game of Richburg’s 49ers tenure.

Richburg, who turns 30 on July 9, also recently had hip surgery. In three seasons in San Francisco, Richburg started 28 games.

After four years with the New York Giants, who selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, Richburg signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the 49ers in the opening days of 2018 free agency. The Niners reworked that deal during the 2019 season to save some cap space, leaving Richburg with a scheduled cap charge of almost $11.5 million in 2021.

Since Richburg retired after June 1, the Niners can spread out the $7 million in remaining dead money evenly over the cap in 2021 and 2022. They will save $1.075 million in cap space for 2021 upon Richburg’s retirement.

“Weston was someone who made not only our offense, but our entire team better,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in the statement. “He led by example through his detailed approach and the toughness in which he played the game. He was a tremendous player for our organization and will be missed both on the field and in the locker room.”

The 49ers signed Alex Mack in free agency to take over the starting center duties.

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RB Tevin Coleman first San Francisco 49ers free agent to join coach Robert Saleh’s New York Jets

Addressing their thin backfield, the New York Jets agreed to terms Wednesday with former San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $2 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coleman will be reunited with Jets coach Robert Saleh and several assistants, all of whom left San Francisco after the season. After a few failed attempts over the past week, Saleh finally landed a 49ers free agent.

Coleman joins a relatively unproven backfield that incorporates Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams, none of whom has rushed for more than 511 yards in a season.

There’s also a good chance the Jets will draft a running back. The Jets plan to run the 49ers’ offense under new coordinator Mike LaFleur, a former San Francisco assistant, so Coleman will be familiar with the scheme.

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Coleman’s best year was 2018 with the Atlanta Falcons, when he ran for 800 yards in a contract year.

He rushed for 544 yards on the 49ers’ NFC championship team in 2019, but 2020 was a washout because of injuries.

In Week 2 versus the Jets, Coleman suffered a sprained knee that landed him on injured reserve. He was one of several 49ers players to get injured that day at MetLife Stadium, prompting complaints from the team about the quality of the turf.

Coleman sprained a knee later in the season and wound up playing only 63 offensive snaps in eight matches. He was limited to 53 yards on 28 carries (1.9 average) and no touchdowns.

It will be a new-look backfield for the Jets, whose leading rusher last season was Frank Gore, 37, a free agent who might retire.

The Jets also made a move on defense, signing former Philadelphia Eagles pass-rusher Vinny Curry to a one-year, $1.3 million contact. Curry, who turns 33 on June 30, projects as a situational rusher.

He recorded three sacks and 10 quarterbacks hits in 11 games last season. In nine seasons, including eight with the Eagles, he has 32.5 career sacks.

The Jets, one of the most active teams in free agency, have signed 11 players.

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Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati says he’s retiring after 11 seasons

Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who spent the past two years with the Seattle Seahawks, is retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL.

Iupati revealed his decision in an interview with Spokane newspaper The Spokesman-Review, saying, “My body was telling me it was time to close the door.”

The 33-year-old was a first-team All-Pro in 2012 with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him 17th overall out of Idaho in 2010. He made three Pro Bowls in five seasons with the 49ers and one in four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He then played on consecutive one-year deals with the Seahawks, starting 25 matches.

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A model of toughness, Iupati played through multiple injuries in the latter portion of his career, most notably dealing with a chronic neck issue that started in 2015 and ultimately convinced him his time in football was over.

Iupati missed six games in 2020 while dealing with injuries to his knee, back and neck.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll referred to Iupati’s late-season neck injury as a stinger and said it was something he had dealt with earlier in his career. According to The Spokesman-Review, “a chronic neck condition convinced him he needed to give the game up.”

“I know I’m going to miss it,” Iupati told the newspaper about playing football. “But I’m kind of excited. I’ve got four boys and I’m taking care of them every day.”

Iupati told the newspaper his goal was to play 10 NFL seasons. Spotrac.com lists him with more than $50.75 million in on-field earnings over his career. Iupati and center Ethan Pocic were Seattle’s two starting offensive linemen from 2020 who were planned to become unrestricted free agents.

Earlier this month, quarterback Russell Wilson publicly stated his desire for the Seahawks to improve their pass protection.

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San Francisco 49ers signing Josh Rosen to back up C.J. Beathard

Whether or not he wanted to make a modification at quarterback, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has no choice but to turn to third-stringer C.J. Beathard for Saturday’s game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

That’s because Beathard is the only healthy quarterback on the active roster. Desperate for a quarterback to back him up, the 49ers are signing Josh Rosen off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

Beathard’s return to the starting lineup comes almost a year to the day after his brother Clayton was stabbed to death outside a bar in Nashville, Tennessee.

“To go through what he did last year and then to go right into quarantine and to come right to us with the season, I know it’s been a huge challenge for him,” Shanahan said. “And I’m excited he’s going to get an opportunity this week. I have got as much respect for C.J. as anyone I’ve ever been with as a person and as a player, and it’s going to be fun working with him this week.”

Shanahan stated Tuesday that quarterback Nick Mullens is dealing with a right elbow injury that could require Tommy John surgery and will cost him the final two games of the campaign. Team doctors are waiting for the swelling to go down in Mullens’ elbow before determining the severity of the injury and what surgery will be required.

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Complicating matters was Tuesday’s news that practice squad quarterback Josh Johnson has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, with a source telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he tested positive for the virus.

That means he can’t be activated in time for Saturday’s game.

And while the Niners opened the 21-day practice window for starter Jimmy Garoppolo to return from the high ankle sprain that landed him on injured reserve, it’s unlikely that Garoppolo will play in either of the final two matches.

“Right now, he’s safe to go out to practice, which we’re only having a walk-through today, but it will be fun for him to throw the ball around a little bit,” Shanahan said. “But we’re going to be very safe with him this week. We’ll see next week, but I’d be very surprised if that changes.”

Because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols that require players to go through a six-day testing period before they can be activated, the Niners can’t sign a quarterback off the street, leaving them with just the option of signing a quarterback off another team’s practice squad.

Rosen was taken by the Cardinals with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft and traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2019 as Arizona selected Kyler Murray No. 1 overall.

The Dolphins released Rosen in September and he was later signed by the Bucs for their practice squad. Rosen has made 16 career starts and appeared in 20 regular-season games overall, throwing for 2,845 yards with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while completing 54.8% of his pass attempts.

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San Francisco 49ers CB K’Waun Williams suspended 2 games for PED violation

Already sidelined by a high ankle sprain, San Francisco 49ers cornerback K’Waun Williams will miss at least the next two matches after the NFL suspended him Tuesday for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The earliest Williams can return from the two-game suspension is Tuesday, Dec. 8, after the Niners play the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.

Jamar Taylor has handled slot corner duties in Williams’ absence.

Williams is planned to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Williams, who when healthy serves as the team’s primary nickel corner, has appeared in just six games this campaign as he’s dealt with hip, knee and ankle injuries.

He suffered the ankle sprain in a Nov. 5 loss to the Green Bay Packers, has not played since and, even before the suspension, was not expected back in the next couple of weeks.

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While Williams will remain out for at least the next two weeks, the 49ers are hoping to get some reinforcements back from injured reserve soon. The team opened the 21-day practice window for running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. on Tuesday, which means they could return as early as Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Mostert and Wilson have been on injured reserve with high ankle sprains; Mostert’s happened in a Week 6 win versus the Rams, and Wilson’s came a week later against the New England Patriots.

Mostert has a team-best 303 rushing yards despite playing in just four games. Wilson has 163 yards rushing in six games.

The 49ers also signed safety Chris Edwards to the active roster on Tuesday. Edwards offers additional depth after the Niners placed strong safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Johnathan Cyprien on injured reserve in recent weeks.

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San Francisco 49ers shut facility after WR Kendrick Bourne tests positive for COVID-19

One day before they are planned to play the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football, the San Francisco 49ers shut down their facility because of a positive COVID-19 test Wednesday morning.

The Niners confirmed the positive test after a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tested positive. League sources told ESPN that Thursday’s match is expected to go on as planned, pending more contact tracing and information.

In a statement, the Niners acknowledged the positive test and said they have entered the league’s “intensive protocol.”

“The San Francisco 49ers were informed today that a player has tested positive for COVID-19 and the individual immediately went into self-quarantine,” the statement said. “Our organization has entered the NFL’s intensive protocol and we are working with the league on contact tracing to identify high risk individuals. All team functions will be conducted virtually today.

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“The health and safety of our players, staff and community are the organization’s highest priority. We will continue to work closely with the NFL and medical professionals and will follow their direction.”

Later Wednesday, Bourne was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

After Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers returned to the facility and held a practice early Tuesday evening in preparation for Thursday’s game versus Green Bay. The Packers flew to the Bay Area late Wednesday afternoon.

Bourne’s positive test means he won’t be able to play versus the Packers if the game goes on as organized, leaving the 49ers particularly short-handed at wide receiver after ruling out Deebo Samuel because of a hamstring injury and waiving wideout Dante Pettis.

Receiver Richie James has been limited in practice because of an ankle issue.

The Packers, meanwhile, will be without running back AJ Dillon, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, while running back Jamaal Williams and linebacker Kamal Martin also have been ruled out after they were deemed “high-risk close contacts” of Dillon. Running back Aaron Jones (calf) is listed as questionable.

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San Francisco 49ers trade LB Kwon Alexander to New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints continued their aggressive approach toward the 2020 season by obtaining linebacker Kwon Alexander from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round draft pick.

Both linebackers are on the mend from injuries. Alexander missed the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain but returned to practice last week. Alonso, meanwhile, has not played yet this season after tearing his ACL in January. But he also returned to practice last month.

The 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract as a free agent from Tampa Bay last campaign. But Alexander, 26, was limited last year by a torn pectoral muscle before returning for their playoff run.

This was a way for the 49ers to shed salary because they like their depth at the position — specifically second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who has started in Alexander’s place whenever he has been injured.

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The Saints, meanwhile, have one of the NFL’s best run defenses.

But the athletic 6-foot-1, 227-pounder should help their pass coverage while playing alongside All-Pro Demario Davis. Both players are Mike/Will linebacker hybrids.

Coach Sean Payton stated Monday the Saints envision Alexander as a Will linebacker, where he will compete for playing time with current starter Alex Anzalone while Davis plays more of the Mike linebacker role.

Payton said it would be difficult for Alexander to play Sunday night at Tampa Bay because of the five-day onboarding process that is required. But Payton said the “goal” is for Alexander to be able to suit up in Week 10 — versus the 49ers of all teams in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints can easily afford Alexander’s deal for the rest of this season, as he is due less than $1 million in base salary and per-game roster bonuses over their final nine matches. However, they will have a decision to make next year before Alexander is due an additional $13.4 million in salary and bonuses.

Only $2 million is guaranteed for injury-only. Alexander is due another $13.5 million in 2022, none of which is guaranteed.

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49ers WR Pierre Garcon drawing interest from teams as trade deadline approaches

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan recognized Sunday that wide receiver Pierre Garcon has drawn interest from several teams around the league as Tuesday’s trade deadline approaches.

The 49ers have fielded calls from at least three teams in the past week inquiring whether Garcon is available, and San Francisco has listened to what others are offering as talks are expected to continue following Sunday’s match against the Arizona Cardinals, sources told ESPN.

“Teams call about a lot of people,” Shanahan stated after the game. “I think every team around the league is doing a ton, so I know there was a report on Pierre. That is true. He’s one of the guys that people have asked about and we have talked about, but nothing is going down right now. We’ll see how these next two days play out with Pierre and a lot of people.”

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Garcon, 32, is the type of veteran receiver whom some teams covet because of his talent and leadership.

He also is programed to make $6.6 million in base salary this season and $5.6 million next season, making him even more attractive to teams.

“We’d love Pierre back, he’s just trying to get his knee healthy, which he’s very close to,” Shanahan said. “We expect him to be good for Thursday night. We have looked into everything. Teams have talked about him, and it is a possibility, but nothing for sure right now.”

Shanahan also said he has kept Garcon informed of trade discussions. San Francisco is not expected to reach the postseason and could be willing to part ways with Garcon in the hopes of receiving a draft pick in return. Garcon has 21 receptions for 230 yards in seven matches this campaign, his second with the 49ers.

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Niners get kwon Alexander, others back for Saturday

Linebacker Kwon Alexander will be back on the field Saturday when the 49ers open the playoffs, but he likely won’t step into his old every-down role quite yet.

Alexander is just nine weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn pectoral. He returned to practice last week and still on IR.

The 49ers plan to activate him to the 53-man roster to play Saturday versus the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium in the NFC divisional round.

The 49ers know what to expect from Alexander. But they also do not know exactly what to expect.

“I know Kwon will fly around,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’ll hit. He’ll be energetic. He’ll get everyone going. I think everyone will feel his energy on the field. And we’ll see how it goes.

“We’re not going to throw him out there, just down-in and down-out. But we don’t have a plan, where it’s only going to be ‘this’ amount. He’s looked good in practice, but we’re also not laying people out in practice.”

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Rookie Dre Greenlaw played the weakside linebacker position during the second half of the season in Alexander’s absence.

Greenlaw made the big defensive play of the season in Week 17 when he stopped Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister just inches short of the goal line on a late-game fourth-down play.

The tackle preserved the 49ers’ 26-21 victory and wrapped up the NFC West and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The 49ers’ three linebacker positions are similar, so the team will have some decisions to make on how they want to use Greenlaw and Alexander alongside middle linebacker Fred Warner.

Shanahan said a lot of the team’s in-game decision-making will be in reaction to Alexander’s effectiveness.

“You got to wait to see how the tackling goes and how he feels,” Shanahan said. “(He is) someone we’ll be communicating with throughout the game.”

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49ers C Weston Richburg out for year

The San Francisco 49ers suffered a big blow on Sunday when center Weston Richburg left in the third quarter of their victory over the New Orleans Saints with a leg injury.

Test results on Monday confirmed bad news. Head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that Richburg suffered a torn patella tendon and will miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs.

The 49ers are also looking at key defensive players missing time for the stretch run of the season.

While it sounds like Sherman and Ford could be back for the playoffs — especially if the 49ers earn a first-round bye — losing Richburg is a setback for the league’s fourth-ranked offense and second-ranked running game. But a bye is no guarantee with games versus the Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams and a key Week 17 clash with the Seattle Seahawks that could determine the NFC West champion remaining.

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Richburgh, meanwhile, will need surgery and rehab before he returns.

A six-year NFL veteran, Richburg has anchored San Francisco’s interior line for two seasons.

Ben Garland finished Sunday’s game in place of Richburg and is expected to take over at center in his place.

Garland took first-team reps during training camp as Richburg recovered from offseason surgery. He drew positive reviews from his teammates on Sunday, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

The 49ers had 339 total yards to the Saints’ 265 at the time of Richburg’s injury, but they trailed 30-28. 

Center Weston Richburg was carted off the field with an injury to his right knee and ankle. Richburg’s right leg got caught on guard Mike Person’s left leg, causing the center’s leg to awkwardly bend as he went to the ground.  The 49ers signed Richburg to a five-year contract in March 2018. 

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