With veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon now off the books, it’s time for the San Francisco 49ers to start looking for his replacement coming into the 2019 season.
The San Francisco 49ers will assuredly be hot on the market for wide receivers this offseason.
It came as no real surprise when Mike Garafolo of NFL Network made the announcement on Thursday that, per sources he has spoken to, the Niners will not be picking up veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon’s option for 2019:
Since Garcon was placed on injured reserve late in the season with a knee injury, speculation had been brewing that the 49ers were unlikely to pick him up for his third year, something which has now been all but confirmed.
Garcon has been somewhat of a failure after the 49ers signed him to a five-year deal in 2017 for $47.5 million, with $17 million fully guaranteed. From the two seasons he has played for the Niners, he has only been active in 16 games, after falling to injured reserve for two consecutive years.
Bad luck, in the form of a neck injury, caused an early end to Garcon’s 2017 campaign, with the receiver on track for a possible 1,000-yard season. However, since his return in 2018, he has been nothing but unimpressive.
His combined stats from his two years with the 49ers are, how do you say…underwhelming. As a player that head coach Kyle Shanahan brought in as more than a stopgap than anything else, he failed to produce.
Garcon had a total of 64 receptions for 786 yards and one touchdown. His catch percentage also dropped to 52.2 percent, the lowest since his 2011 season. While he did bring that veteran experience, at 32 years of age, you just don’t bounce back from injury like a 21 year old does anymore.
According to NBC’s 49ers Insider, Matt Maiocco, Garcon will count as $7.2 million in dead money for the 2019 season along with a total cap savings of $505,000:
With Garcon now not set to hit free agency, the 49ers will also have to start their hunt for a new wide receiver. The Niners are in desperate need of a big receiver, not only in height, but also someone who possesses the weight to back it up. Wide receiver Dante Pettis is currently the 49ers’ tallest receiver, coming in at 6-foot-1.
The Niners are lacking a big dominant wide receiver, someone capable of being a red-zone threat. The 49ers have struggled to convert in the red zone, with it being one of the worst performing aspects of their offense in recent years. The 49ers ended 2018 ranked last in touchdown efficiency.
They need someone who is reliable and has the ability to reel in catches, another problem the 49ers have also toiled with in recent years. They gave up some big plays in 2018 with receivers unable to keep control of the ball.
The rumours and conjecture surrounding wide receiver Antonio Brown landing with the 49ers has continued, and will likely continue to do so with Brown’s recent social media release requesting a release from the Pittsburgh Steelers:
While his off-field issues are something to seriously consider, the 30-year-old is someone capable of adding instant explosiveness to any team and potentially transforming an offense. Brown doesn’t have the height the 49ers are in need of, however, that’s negated by the fact he is one of the greatest receivers of the modern-era.
Another possibility that has been doing the rounds is the New York Giants may be looking to offload wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. While he likely wouldn’t come cheap, Beckham would make a nice addition to the 49ers’ roster and would be a safer bet than Brown.
Beckham’s speed, athleticism and explosiveness would entirely transform the 49ers offense. Not to mention his crazy ability with the ball and those famous one-handed catches. Again, while not possessing the size the Niners are in need of, he makes up for it by being the supreme athlete that he is.
The availability of veteran receivers in this year’s free agency is rather limited, however there is one player who has popped up on the radar on more than one occasion as a potential suitor for the Niners. That player being Tyrell Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers, someone I have also touched on in the past.
Measuring at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Williams would be ideal for where the 49ers need to be looking in terms of size. He finished his 2018 season with 41 receptions for 653 yards, averaging 15.9 yards per reception and five touchdowns:
Williams has been the Chargers’ third string receiver behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but given the opportunity, Williams may be able to provide the production the 49ers are in need of. 2016 was Williams’ most dynamic year, given considerable playing time due to Allen tearing his ACL early in the year.
He had 69 receptions for 1,059 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per reception and seven touchdowns. While his value has dropped since then, he simply has not been provided the opportunity to continue to grow as a player. If the 49ers did in fact try and pursue Williams, it’s probable that he would see considerably more playing time and return closer to that 1,000-yard season.
There’s no denying the 49ers require additional depth at wide receiver to continue the ongoing rebuild of the team. They will likely address this issue through the 2019 NFL Draft, however while securing a young rookie is good for the future, the Niners need to get their hands on a veteran to help lead the way.