After a couple weeks of waiting, it appears it is finally happening. Ian Rapoport is reporting the San Francisco 49ers will release wide receiver Stevie Johnson once newly acquired wide receiver Torrey Smith officially passes his physical. Dianna Russini first reported about this on February 28. The reports were disputed, but it appears she was right.
In making this move, the 49ers will clear $6,025,000 in cap space. Prior to the Torrey Smith and Blaine Gabbert transactions, the 49ers had approximately $15 million in cap space. This moves the up to $21 million, but obviously that will come back down with the Smith and Gabbert signings. We still do not have the specifics on Smith's deal, so we will see just how much of his 5-year, $40 million deal actually hits the cap in year one.
The addition of Torrey Smith and the departure of Stevie Johnson leaves the 49ers with a wide receiver corps looking as follows
WR: Anquan Boldin, Bruce Ellington, Chuck Jacobs, Lance Lewis
WR: Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton, Jerome Simpson, Trindon Holliday
There have been no rumors about Michael Crabtree, so it is certainly possible he could still return on a short-term deal. However, if he does not, for now it likely becomes a competition among Simpson, Ellington and Patton for third and fourth receiver roles. The team still could elect to add a receiver in the draft. Considering Boldin would hit free agency next year, adding a receiver fairly early in the draft is not the worst idea in the world.