Free agency is officially upon us! The long wait is over — no more speculating who we think the 49ers should/will sign. By Tuesday evening, it had become clear that the 49ers had agreed a five year contract to sign Weston Richburg, formerly of the New York Giants. Richburg has primarily been a centre in the NFL, but can also play guard and provides the 49ers with a versatile piece for the interior of their offensive line.

Richburg will likely see an improvement in his play as he shifts into Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, where he will be able to make far more use of his quickness and movement skills in Shanahan’s outside zone scheme than he was ever able to in New York. Whether he lines up at centre or guard remains to be seen, but Richburg promises to be an upgrade at either position. If Geoff Schwartz is to be believed, Richburg will be a centre for the 49ers, likely pushing Daniel Kilgore into a role as the backup interior lineman on gameday. Whatever the result, this move seems a smart one provided Richburg is over the concussion issues that plagued him this past season.

Then, early Wednesday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that San Francisco and former Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon had agreed to a four-year deal paying him on average $7.5 million a year, totaling $30 million. This deal puts McKinnon in the top-five when it comes to running back salary.

McKinnon, who is listed at 5’9, 216 LBS, finished the 2017 season with the Vikings with 570 rushing yards on 150 attempts (3.8 avg.) and 3 touchdowns, and 421 receiving yards on 51 receptions (8.3 avg.) and 2 touchdowns.His career stats are:

  • 474 rush attempts
  • 1,918 rushing yards
  • 4.0 average yards per carry
  • 7 rushing touchdowns
  • 142 receptions
  • 984 receiving yards
  • 6.9 average yards per catch
  • 5 receiving touchdowns

It is worth noting that when the 49ers drafted running back Joe Williams out of Utah in last year’s NFL Draft that his main pro comparison was none other than McKinnon himself. Now Kyle Shanahan and Bobby Turner get the exact back they’ve had their eye on this whole time. McKinnon is an explosive back who is more than capable of catching a boatload of passes out of the backfield. The rest of the NB9ers team agreed that it would be no surprise to see him top 1K yards from scrimmage in his first season with the 49ers.

While the McKinnon news took over 49ers Twitter, former 49ers starting running back Carlos Hyde reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. The deal is reportedly worth around $15 million, with $6 coming in the first year alone, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. It is worth noting that Hyde got both less years and guaranteed money in his contract. So, based on that alone one must think John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan both value McKinnon over Hyde moving forward.

Side note: both running backs currently atop the 49ers depth chart (Breida & McKinnon) are Georgia Southern products.

Featured image per @AtomiicDonkey