Assuming Sydney Rice is released by the Seattle Seahawks, as multiple reports have suggested, the San Francisco 49ers could be a potential landing place. As is well-documented, the Seahawks and 49ers have a history of scalping each others’ players. Tom Smeaton of Bleacher Report makes a strong case for a cheap, 1-year deal between the 49ers and the talented but oft-injured 27-year old here. There is, however, a counter-argument for everything.
The 49ers, before investing in another receiver, will likely want to retain their own players–such as Anquan Boldin, Donte Whitner, and several players with contracts up after this next season. This makes focusing on non-49er free agents–especially those who are borderline job-takers and starters–difficult. Furthermore, the 49ers need to develop long-term talent at the position. Smeaton suggests signing Rice to a one-year deal–which Rice likely would prefer, as one good year could greatly increase his value. The 49ers, however, need a long-term solution rather than a quick fix. This means Quinton Patton needs to get some chances and a rookie receiver, if drafted, would likely need some playing time as well. If Patton and said rookie are 4th and 5th on the depth chart, the 49ers will be hard-pressed to develop future stars at the position.
Rice could make sense as a 49er on a cheap deal. It would not be the worst decision the team has made, but unless the deal is at least three years, it seems to make more sense for the 49ers to look towards the draft and longer-term development.