The San Francisco 49ers have a significant need to improve their wide receiver depth, and with a lot of cap space and draft picks, they have some significant options. However, with a head coach and general manager each signed to six-year contracts, patience is going to be the name of the game.
There is going to be a ton of money thrown around, and one player who is likely to find himself cashing in is Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson. There is talk his two primary options are staying in Washington or returning to Philadelphia. However, he is entering free agency for the first time in his career (Fooch’s update: Never mind, it’s the second time), so the best offer could do the trick.
The 2017 NFL Combine gets going in a week and a half, and that is when we will start to really hear the rumors of where players might land. The tampering period in March is the first formal opportunity for discussions, but agents and teams will do plenty of talking during the Combine.
The 49ers head into this offseason with a wide receiver depth chart that includes Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington, Aaron Burbridge, Eric Rogers, DeAndre Smelter, Chris Harper, and Rashad Ross. Quinton Patton, Jeremy Kerley and Rod Streater are all due to hit free agency.
There is some upside in the current crop of 49ers, but they currently lack that consistent dominant No. 1 receiver, or experienced, productive depth. Maybe they add Mike Williams, maybe they invest in free agency, but they have to make some changes.
Adding someone like DeSean Jackson would be an immediate infusion of talent, but at 30 years of age, would it be too short-sighted? He is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in yards per catch for the second time in three years. He does not seem to be losing a step yet, but he is approaching an age where he could lose those skills in a hurry.
If the 49ers were a playoff contender, or a big play receiver away from being a contender, there would be value in signing someone like Jackson. While drastic turnarounds do happen in the NFL, it is reasonable to think the 49ers are still two or three, or more years away from being a true contender. I think Jackson probably still has some high production years left in him, but if I’m the 49ers, I think it is a hard pass in the name of patience.