DeAndre Hopkins is now a free agent after the Cardinals released him, but that won't necessarily mean the 49ers will pursue him.
On Tuesday, the free-falling Arizona Cardinals cut ties with disgruntled superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had openly requested a trade amid critiquing the organization nearly all offseason.
Hopkins' lofty contract prevented the red birds from engineering such a move, as Arizona will carry over $21 million in dead money this year.
However, will a full-fledged rebuild taking over, and the Cardinals fully focused on ushering in a new era after likely finishing this year as the NFL's worst team, holding onto Hopkins made little to no sense.
So, are the San Francisco 49ers thinking what you're thinking?
Are the 49ers going to sign DeAndre Hopkins?
Turning 31 years old this offseason, Hopkins might not be the All-Pro kind of player he was back during his heyday years with the Houston Texans and initiallly with Arizona, but he's still notably productive.
Despite a messy situation with the Cardinals in 2022, and amid a suspension-shortened season, he still managed 717 yards and three touchdowns on 64 catches over nine games played.
Prior to being released, Hopkins laid out his "wish list" of the kind of teams for which he'd like to play:
Yes, the Niners check off a lot of boxes.
They've had the same front office under general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, dating back to 2017, and that tandem isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And San Francisco's defense last season was No. 1 in the NFL.
OK, so there are question marks at quarterback with Brock Purdy returning from an elbow injury, Trey Lance's uncertain status and Sam Darnold somehow mixed in between, but Hopkins has to know fully well that receivers can thrive in Shanahan's offense with even an average quarterback under center.
So, why wouldn't San Francisco make the call? Outside of probably angering No. 1 cornerback Charvarius Ward, who has beef with Hopkins, shouldn't the red and gold pursue?
Much of this would hinge on Hopkins. For starters, he'd have to assume a No. 3 role on offense behind established 49ers receivers, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, who'd automatically be ahead of him in the pecking order. So would tight end George Kittle, too, while versatile running back Christian McCaffrey would also take away touches.
Now, Hopkins and Samuel work out together during the offseason, and it's always possible that relationship helps foster a situation where the former would be willing to trade stats and a featured role for a better chance to win a Super Bowl.
However, other receiver-needy teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills have available roles that are much more prominent with elite-level quarterbacks and a just-as-good chance of winning a Super Bowl as the Niners.
Plus, Hopkins would have to take a pay cut. Sure, making $21 million from Arizona this season effectively means he's plenty comfortable, but it's not likely he'll sign a bargain-basement deal just to chase a ring.
San Francisco has just over $10 million in cap space now, currently.
What'll likely happen is you'll hear a reporter ask Lynch and/or Shanahan during the 49ers' next press conference whether or not Hopkins was in play, and the response from one of the two will be something along the lines of, "We explore all possible opportunities for an upgrade, and Hopkins is an intriguing a player as there is. But we also like the guys we have here and felt they give us the best chance to win."