NFL free agency: Making the case for the 49ers to sign Sammy Watkins

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Sammy Watkins
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Sammy Watkins /

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of possibility to make a big move in the 2018 free agent market. We will try to make the case for the Niners to sign Sammy Watkins.

There is great potential for the San Francisco 49ers to boost their roster heading into 2018.

The free-agent market is hot, and it is well known the Niners have some serious cash to spend. So what need should the 49ers address through the market? Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins could be a great fit for the 49ers, and they should consider taking a serious look at the young wide receiver if he isn’t franchise tagged.

San Francisco has not had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2014, when Anquan Boldin led the team with 1,062 yards receiving. Even more, it has been nearly 20 years since the Niners have had two wide receivers go for 1,000 yards in the same season (Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice in 1998).

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

To be totally fair, Marquise Goodwin had 962 yards in 2017 and Pierre Garcon had 500 yards through half of the season before missing the final eight games due to an injury. Goodwin proved to be a great weapon for new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and Garcon has yet to catch a pass from the new signal-caller.

But there is still room for one more dynamic wide receiver to add to this roster.

Can the 49ers land Sammy Watkins in the 2018 free agent market?

Watkins could be the exact physical receiver the Niners need to take this receiving corps over the top.

Watkins is just 24 years old, while the average age of this unit is 28 years old. Even the 49ers’ youngest starting wide receiver, Trent Taylor, is 23 years old.

Watkins would come into San Francisco as one of its biggest receivers, as a taller and heavier version of Garcon. Not to mention, he runs a faster 40-yard dash than Garcon.

In his first two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Watkins posted 982 yards and 1,047 yards, respectively. The last two years of his young career were essentially just average. Watkins showed that he can reel in the big pass plays against top defenders in the league.

It is totally possible San Francisco could bring Watkins in, and he does not get close to 1,000 yards. But football is a chess game, and Watkins’ presence opens up potential for the other receivers around him. A player like Watkins creates options for quarterbacks and requires extra attention from opposing defenses.

With Watkins in San Francisco, there is huge potential for the team to have its first 1,000-yard receiving duo in nearly 20 years.

Sammy Watkins is a bargain at wide receiver

The best part about signing Watkins is he could come as a total value signing.

Watkins has an annual average value of just under $5 million. This means that the 49ers could sign Watkins to something like a two-year, $15 million deal and still have cap space to sign another offensive lineman or defensive player.

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With a two-year deal, the Niners can get some prime years out of Watkins that could help the team decide whether or not he would be a long-term fit.

The NFL season is officially over, and fans can expect moves to begin very soon. Unrestricted free agents cannot be negotiated with until Mar. 12, but there will be plenty of time for hype to build around which players teams are interested in. With more than $110 million in cap space, the 49ers should be ready to make a big move in free agency. 

Next: What will Jimmy Garoppolo's contract look like?

Will Watkins be the free agent that the Niners decide to target? Stay tuned, Faithful.