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Jerome Simpson signing is the right direction for 49ers, but it changes little

Jerome Simpson could do some good things for the 49ers in 2015, but his signing changes little in San Francisco's overall plans.

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Bringing in Jerome Simpson on a two-year contract was a definite step in the right direction for the San Francisco 49ers. On Thursday, Fooch wrote about how the signing reminded him of the Perrish Cox signing from a few years ago and I think that's pretty accurate. He's a reclamation project who hasn't done much on the field recently but has flashed a lot of potential in the past.

In other words, the 49ers probably don't intend for Simpson to see the field early and often, but will leave the door open for him if he flourishes when that does happen. I've been thinking about what kind of role Simpson will take at least in the early parts of the season, and I've settled on a pretty decent analogue: Brandon Lloyd.

Simpson is a lot younger than Lloyd and has more potential going forward, but I think Lloyd played a lot more last season than many of us expected. Obviously, looking at the current roster, Simpson is a guy who could take one of the starting roles, but it's important to note that Simpson really doesn't change the 49ers' plans at this point.

Anquan Boldin will start, Stevie Johnson may or may not be one of the top three receivers on the depth chart -- depending on whether or not he takes a pay cut -- Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington will vie for playing time. There's still a starting spot up for grabs, and that spot is widely expected to go to a rookie taken in one of the top two rounds, as Michael Crabtree is likely out the door in free agency.

So there's that No. 2 spot open for the aforementioned rookie, with guys like Johnson, Patton and Ellington filling in where needed. Simpson gets on the field as part of that group. He won't have a ton of opportunities, I imagine, but given the big-play nature of his skillset, he'll have a chance to make an impact.

Just don't expect Simpson to change San Francisco's plans at all going forward. Like Lloyd, I think Simpson will have to fight for his spot on the roster and I think anything he contributes will be a pleasant surprise as opposed to something that's expected of him. Wide receiver is still likely the top need heading into the NFL Draft.