49ers should extend Jauan Jennings instead of using RFA tender

The Niners don't want Jauan Jennings catching third-down passes and blocking for anyone else, right?

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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Jauan Jennings is a restricted free agent and has tremendous value for the 49ers, who should extend him instead of tendering him.

While Brandon Aiyuk is the San Francisco 49ers' top priority at wide receiver, as he seeks what looks to be a hefty contract extension this offseason, the Niners should be notably challenged enough to figure out what to do about fellow wideout Jauan Jennings.

Jennings, who could have been game MVP if San Francisco won Super Bowl 58 earlier this offseason, is a restricted free agent. This means the 49ers have some control over his immediate future, should they offer him one of the qualifying tenders.

For those who need a quick review on how RFA tenders work, click here.

Of all the tenders, a second-round one seems logical enough. Should another team sign Jennings away from the Niners, that team would have to send San Francisco a second-round NFL Draft pick in exchange.

The cost to the 49ers if Jennings was retained on that tender, though, would be $4.89 million in 2024.

The NFL just released the tender amounts for RFAs on Friday, news courtesy of NFL Network's Tom Pelissero:

Having Jennings around for another year at $4.89 million isn't a bad idea.

But, what if the Niners could lock him up on a better, longer contract?

Why 49ers should extend Jauan Jennings, not RFA tender him

Jennings will turn 27 years old this offseason. That's generally considered to be the peak of NFL player performance, especially for wide receivers.

As far as stats go, he's about as reliable a No. 3 receiver there is, sitting behind Aiyuk and All-Pro Deebo Samuel on the team's depth chart. Jennings is an excellent third-down weapon, too, and seven of his 10 third-down receptions in 2023 went for a first down.

Above all, he's one of the best perimeter blockers in the league right now.

Statistically, Jennings had a down year in 2023, catching 19 passes for 265 yards, both career-lows. But San Francisco knows fully well what value Jennings brings, and he's been consistent in that regard ever since getting his chances back in 2021.

Over the Cap valued Jennings' 2023 campaign at $1.519 million, and the 49ers surely value him much more than that figure. But, even if the Niners elected to sign him on a deal that'd net an annual average of, let's say, $4 million over the course of two or even three years, it'd not only save almost a million in case this year but would also ensure his talents don't depart anytime soon.

Related story: 8 former 49ers who'll be free agents (and 4 who may return)

San Francisco has some modest wiggle room with regard to the salary cap, and it's more than likely Jennings fits into the team's immediate future.

Yet there's a smarter way to lock up his services while saving money in the interim.

The 49ers need to go the extension route instead of using an RFA tender.

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