The San Francisco 49ers inked three wide receivers, including Pierre Garcon, in the opening wave of NFL free agency. How do these moves shake up the Niners’ wide receiver group heading into 2017?
Pierre Garcon is now the San Francisco 49ers’ No. 1 wide receiver.
Garcon, of course, was one of many free-agent moves general manager John Lynch made during the opening wave of signings. And Garcon already has a rapport with head coach Kyle Shanahan from both persons’ days with the Washington Redskins.
Oh, and we forgot Jeremy Kerley’s new deal too.
San Francisco 49ers
With Torrey Smith released, and Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson in, how does the Niners wide receiver group look heading into the upcoming season?
For one thing, it doesn’t look good for wideout Quinton Patton to be re-signed.
Patton, now a free agent, posted some ominous tweets on his Twitter account, which do enough to suggest he won’t be back.
Incumbent 49ers Receivers
San Francisco still has a number of other receivers on its current roster. Of these, DeAndre Smelter, Bruce Ellington, Aaron Burbridge, Chris Harper and Eric Rogers appear to be in the most danger.
Smelter, who missed his 2015 rookie season while recovering from an ACL injury, appeared in just two games last season and caught one pass for 23 yards.
Burbridge might have a chance to stick around. But considering Shanahan’s love for speedy receivers, it’s possible the slower second-year pro doesn’t make it beyond the preseason.
Ellington raises an interesting question too. The oft-injured fourth-round draftee from 2014 missed all of last year with a hamstring injury. Kerley replaced him in the slot and wound up leading the 49ers with 667 receiving yards.
Sure, Ellington could come back and compete with new additions like Robinson and Goodwin. But it seems as if San Francisco is more content with its fresh faces than holding onto players who haven’t worked out in the past.
Depth Chart Predictions
Assuming the Niners make zero wide receiver additions in the NFL Draft, let’s go with the following depth-chart prediction at the position:
- Pierre Garcon
- Jeremy Kerley
- Marquise Goodwin
- Aldrick Robinson
- DeAndre Smelter
It’s doubtful the Niners keep more than five receivers on their 53-man roster this season. Smelter wins out here because of his speed, but even that’s precarious considering his injury history.
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The 49ers may not be done adding to the position either.
Free agency will continue throughout the NFL Draft, and the draft itself provides a plethora of enticing options in the early rounds. Guys like Clemson’s Mike Williams, Washington’s John Ross and even Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp could be on San Francisco’s draft radar.
Nevertheless, one of the Niners’ least-productive units last year received a complete overhaul.
And we shouldn’t be surprised if even more changes are on the horizon.