5 potential kick returners for 49ers after Ray-Ray McCloud's free-agent departure

The 49ers are now in the market for a new kick returner after Ray-Ray McCloud left in free agency.

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With Ray-Ray McCloud, the kick returner for the San Francisco 49ers the past two seasons, departing in free agency, the Niners are now in the market for a new kick returner.

This article will explore five potential replacements for McCloud.

5 potential kick returners for 49ers after Ray-Ray McCloud's departure

Special teams has never really been a strength for San Francisco under Kyle Shanahan. It has at times been a weakness and ultimately has seemed mostly like an afterthought.

Really, the 49ers as a team have not had a truly good kick and punt returner since Ted Ginn during the Jim Harbaugh years. It's hard to remember the last time the Niners had a kick or punt return for a touchdown. Perhaps when Richie James did it in 2018?

The 49ers signing McCloud prior to the 2022 season was meant to address their kick-return game. While McCloud was not terrible, he was certainly not one of those game-changing returners we have seen in the NFL like Devin Hester or Tarik Cohen.

It will be interesting to see what the 49ers do to address this hole for kick and punt returns. They have options internally, but there are also proven kick returners on the free agent market as well as intriguing prospects available in the NFL Draft.

It seems unlikely that the Niners will splurge at this position or try to swing a big trade to land one of the premier returners in the game. Shanahan seems to only want a guy who can reliably catch the ball and not fumble.

Let's take a look at five potential names who could be returning kicks for San Francisco in 2024.