NFL mock drafts have connected the San Francisco 49ers with wide receivers fairly frequently over the last month and a half. This is not surprising given the fact that Michael Crabtree is headed to free agency, and the team lacked a true game-breaking receiver in 2014. However, that may have become even more pertinent with the reported plans to release wide receiver Stevie Johnson.
We still don't know for certain if he is gone, but signs are pointing to that being the case. Although he was not an every down receiver for the team in 2014, his departure does take away a very productive receiver in the time he was actually on the field. He was not the game-breaker the 49ers needed, but it is one more shot to the depth chart.
The question now is how this will impact the 49ers plans moving forward. The first question some people had was whether this made it more likely Michael Crabtree returns. That was combined with a host of people hoping this meant good things for Frank Gore and Justin Smith. As to Crabtree, it certainly could be possible the two sides work out a deal. After all, the market is not particularly great for wide receivers this year due to what appears to be a fairly sizable glut. It seems to be a buyer's market, which means salaries could be suppressed a bit for the receivers below the elite group.
The bigger question is what this means for the 49ers in the 2015 NFL Draft. The 49ers hold pick No. 15, which puts them in a pretty good position with regard to the top of this wide receiver class. It is possible a talented option could slip to them. If they were concerned about availability, they could potentially move up a few spots and get one of those receivers.
Does the potential departure of Stevie Johnson all but lock in wide receiver as the team's first round pick? Or could the team fill some holes in free agency, and end up not using its first round pick on a receiver? Nothing Trent Baalke does seems entirely predictable, but could they be boxed into a corner at this point?