The San Francisco 49ers need to address wide receiver in 2019, yet the NFL free agency market won’t be a place where many options reside. Here are a few targets if the Niners elect to go this route.
After a year in which no San Francisco 49ers wide receiver posted more than 500 receiving yards, it’s pretty clear this position will be a top priority for general manager John Lynch and Co. during the 2019 offseason.
It’s a position likely to get thinner, too. According to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, the Niners aren’t expected to pick up the 2019 team option on veteran wide receiver Pierre Garçon, especially after he landed on injured reserve in both his years with San Francisco.
Sure, the 49ers could execute a would-be blockbuster trade for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown or New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. There’s plenty of speculation and rumor surrounding both. But trades are tricky things. And until they’ve happened, they haven’t.
So that leaves the NFL Draft and free agency, of course. The problem with the latter is the free-agent market at wide receiver is pretty thin.
Here’s the list of potentially available players, courtesy of Over the Cap.
Some of the top names on that list include:
- Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
- Donte Moncrief, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tavon Austin, Dallas Cowboys
- Golden Tate, Philadelphia Eagles
- John Brown, Baltimore Ravens
- Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
- Kevin White, Chicago Bears
- Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets
- Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins
Out of these limited names, only a few would raise any eyebrows in a 49ers uniform. Sure, Shanahan helped turn wide receiver Marquise Goodwin from an unknown-but-speedy commodity into nearly a 1,000-yard receiver in 2017. But Goodwin’s numbers declined significantly the following year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Donte Moncrief could be a player to watch here. When healthy, he’s put together some decent seasons. While never having crested the 1,000-yard mark himself, one has to consider he hasn’t exactly had the best quarterbacks, either with the Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck’s injuries) or Jaguars, over his career.
And at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Moncrief could easily be the Niners’ best red-zone option at the position — an area in which Shanahan’s offense finished dead last in touchdown efficiency in 2018.
The veteran, Golden Tate, is another player who might be preferable to Shanahan. At 5-foot-10, Tate isn’t exactly your typical red-zone threat. But his separation speed is still good enough, despite him turning 31 years old this upcoming August. And Shanahan prefers speed and separation over sheer size anyway.
Same goes for John Brown, whose 4.34 40-yard dash back at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine can’t be overlooked.
As for the rest? Well, none are exactly enticing. The Green Bay Packers’ Randall Cobb has seen a decline in his production in recent years. Perhaps that’s a combination of many things, but it’s still hard to envision a rejuvenation of sorts in San Francisco.
The big issue out of them all is none of the aforementioned NFL free agency targets fit the bill for a true No. 1 wide receiver. They’re all complementary players, essentially, meaning the 49ers still have to go the NFL Draft route or give up much-needed assets in a trade for Beckham or Antonio Brown.
As such, don’t bank on San Francisco making a run at any notable free-agent wide receivers this offseason.