The rumor mill is reporting via Jason LaCanfora that the San Diego Chargers will not franchise tag wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and he will likely test the market. LaCanfora went on further to confirm the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers as the strongest candidates out of all the potential suitors out there. From where I'm sitting, it seems like this is just the man the 49ers are looking for and I'll tell you why.
Let's start with the numbers:
Jackson is 6'5, 230-pounds at age 29. In 2008, 2009 and 2011 when Jackson started at least 15 games, he has produced 1,000+ yard seasons and accumulated 25 touchdowns (7, 9 and 9). Jackson has a career percentage of 17.5 yards per catch, and 18.4 last season. He is a scoring threat from anywhere on the field; he had a long of 58-yards this past season. And at 6'5, he will improve the 49ers 3rd down and red zone issues almost immediately.
The 49ers would basically be adding a Vernon Davis at the wide receiver position and with the creativity from the coaching staff, I'm chomping at the bit thinking of the possibilities with those two on the field at the same time. Furthermore, Vincent Jackson would be the perfect complement to Michael Crabtree, and Crabtree would surely flourish with Jackson's presence.
Jackson is also a veteran who has conducted himself fairly well over the years, and it wouldn't take much for him to fit in the corps of guys already in the 49ers' locker room. I also like what this does for our defense and especially our cornerbacks. Practicing against a big physical, multi-dimensional offensive attack with versatility as well will surely improve the defensive unit (hard to believe, I know).
I think the pitch to Alex Smith is going to be, "Hey, we want you back but to put you over the top, we're going to need to spend a little in free agency to get you a big time target at the wide receiver position." This being a team atmosphere, I don't think Smith would strongly oppose it and would still receive a fair offer. But that's just my opinion.
And even more so, San Francisco wouldn't be focused on the wide receiver position early in the draft; they could look at a guard, cornerback, tailback or rush linebacker. I think the Niners would be pressed to shore up the offensive line if Adam Snyder leaves. The 49ers are also probably going to draft a running back seeing as how coach Harbaugh doesn't have a whole lot invested in Anthony Dixon. I saw LaMichael James projected to the 49ers in the second round even. But those are nothing more than thoughts and options at this point. Bottom line, if the 49ers acquired Jackson, they would have a lot more flexibility in the draft and wouldn't be under the gun. If Trent Baalke had some breathing room, I believe he could do some serious damage like he proved last year.
Enclosing In closing, we know Jackson wants to stay in California, we know he wants to win right now (age 29), we know he wants to be the guy and we know he wants to get paid. I know the 49ers can provide the first three things, whether or not they bend on the fourth is up in the air. We'll see but it couldn't hurt for fans to start campaigning for him on Twitter. If you have an account, get in his head, let him know the fans are behind him and his services are needed.
Follow me on Twitter: @DeSimone80