ESPN does a lot of work in conjunction with Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus, and the latest involves a look at bold moves for each team across the NFL. Football Outsiders took a look at one bold move for each team, and for the San Francisco 49ers they suggested signing wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
They acknowledge that it is a big if that Jeffery even hits free agency. He is only 26, and when healthy has put up big numbers. It makes some sense for the Bears to franchise their top receiver, but the hamstring injury is likely on the team's mind, at least a little bit.
Here's what they had to say about the idea of adding Jeffery to the 49ers:
Whoever is taking snaps in San Francisco next season needs a true No. 1 wide receiver. Last year's top 49ers receiver, Anquan Boldin, is a free agent who turns 36 this season. Torrey Smith is dangerous, but best used as a deep-ball specialist and not a top wideout.
If (and it is a big if) the Bears let Jeffery hit free agency, San Francisco seems like a natural fit for the former second-rounder who just turned 26. Jeffery is one of 10 wide receivers to average at least 80 yards per game over the past three seasons, though he sat out seven games last season because of calf, hamstring and groin injuries. Should Chicago decide that Jeffery's health makes him too risky for a long-term investment, the 49ers should jump at the chance to sign a weapon like this.
In the opener to the 49ers segment, they said moving on from Colin Kaepernick would be the obvious boldest move, but chose to consider Kap a potential returner stating "let's assume that Chip Kelly decides to stick with the quarterback whose footwork seems to be the best fit for his system."
We still don't know what the plan is with Anquan Boldin. The 49ers are expected to meet with his agent in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, but prior to this there had reportedly been no discussions. It makes sense for both sides to move on. The 49ers immediate future is a bit unpredictable, so Boldin might want to go somewhere else where his chances of getting to another Super Bowl are a bit more "sure" than with the 49ers.
For the 49ers, they need to figure out the future at the wide receiver position, and Boldin likely is not part of that long-term future. They have guys like DeAndre Smelter, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, and DeAndrew White, to complement Torrey Smith. Of course, Smith seems best suited as a deep threat and not the traditional No. 1 type of receiver.
My guess is Jeffery does not hit free agency this year. However, if he did, it would certainly be an intriguing option to spend some of the 49ers large amount of cap room on him.