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Is Bernard Berrian the answer to the 49ers WR woes?

EDITOR'S UPDATE 11:20PM - Quick thanks to Braekneck for mentioning this first in the comments, but over at Rotoworld, they posted that the NFL Network is reporting Berrian will likely hit the free agent market and the 49ers will likely have interest.

NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports the Bears are unlikely to place the franchise tag on impending free agent Bernard Berrian.

Berrian averaged a career low 13.4 yards per catch in 2007, but that was mainly due to terrible quarterback play. He did score five times and caught a personal best 71 passes. Berrian, who just turned 27, is still improving and will by far be the most attractive player at his position when free agency begins on February 29. The 49ers and Redskins will likely have interest.

First off, thanks to everyone for getting the conversations really going through diaries.  Things got kind of busy the last couple of days, but thankfully we've got a good community that can keep the conversations flowing.

Throughout these conversations names are being thrown out left and right as answers to all that ails the 49ers on the defensive line, the offensive line, at wide receiver and just about everywhere in between (except of course for Andy Lee, punting God).  One name that I've noticed coming up here, as well as on other message boards is Bernard Berrian, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears.  He is generally considered the #2 WR in free agency, behind Randy Moss.  After two non-descript seasons to start his career, Berrian has steadily improved the last two season.

  1. 51 rec, 775 yards, 6 TDs
  2. 71 rec, 951 yards, 5 TDs
Considering he's had the Sex Cannon Rex Grossman, Kyle "Jack Daniels" Orton and Brian Griese throwing to him, that's not too shabby.  As we get closer to free agency and it becomes more clear who the 49ers will be targeting I'll get some in-depth scouting reports from fellow SB Nation sites.  In the meantime, let's check out what Scouts Inc. has to say about Berrian:
Berrian has excellent deep speed, ball skills and red-zone ability. He is deceptive and gets on top of off defenders quickly. He has the extra gear to separate from tight man-to-man coverage. He is outstanding in the red zone. He runs good fade routes and attacks high balls, often out-jumping the defender. He has soft hands and impressive hand-eye coordination. He tracks and snatches balls, often without breaking stride. He continues to refine his game and improve his route running. He no longer is just a deep threat and decoy. He is excellent after the catch and dangerous on reverses. He has improved his hand use and has the quickness to avoid most jams at the line. He makes the effort as a blocker. But Berrian is lean and somewhat limited by his lack of bulk. He sometimes struggles against tough press coverage. He isn't a physical downfield blocker.

So where does that leave us?  I'm not so worried about the downfield blocking, but it's always a worry when a receiver struggles against tough press coverage.  Should Berrian bulk up a little or will that take too much away from his game?  There is a lot of upside with Berrian, but I worry about the bust potential.  While he is steadily improving, he hasn't had that real bust out season you want to see if you're going to hand over a nice chunk of change.

One other thing to consider is whether or not the Bears will franchise Berrian.  I was checking out Windy City Gridiron, our Bears blog, and they had a couple of interesting discussions about Berrian.  One was a diary entry that is convinced Berrian will be franchised.  The other was a front page post with franchise and transition tag amounts.  A franchised wide receiver would get $7,848,000, while a transition tag receiver would get $6,872,000.  Do the Bears think he's worth this for one year and if they do not, what do the 49ers need to shell out for a guy like Berrian?  And of course, is he worth it?