The San Francisco 49ers added another layer of assistance for Jimmy Garoppolo on the verge of free agency opening.
According to ESPN, the 49ers will sign former New York Giants offensive lineman Weston Richburg to a five-year contract. He could play either guard or center for the 49ers.
Richburg, 26, has been cleared to return to football activities after suffering a concussion in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that landed him on injured reserve. Prior to that he had made 50 starts in 51 career games after the Giants picked him in Round 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Other teams such as the New York Jets were expected to dive in on his services, and the Giants had some interest in bringing him back. But the 49ers clearly outmuscled both and helped fortify what was a weakness on the interior last season. Center Daniel Kilgore was a journeyman who parlayed his play into an extension this offseason, and guards Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco were castoffs, but they were forced to start last season.
Where Richburg ends up could depend on what happens in the draft or the rest of free agency. He might be best at center, but it appears that the 49ers could wait and see who else is available in order to pick their best starting five up front. The hope is that former first-round guard Joshua Garnett develops after struggling as a rookie and spending last season on IR.