The San Francisco 49ers signed Jeremy Kerley to a three-year contract extension on Saturday, with reports of it being worth up to $10.5 million. The 49ers formally announced the move Saturday afternoon, and general manager John Lynch express excitement about his fit in the 49ers offensive scheme.
"We are very excited to be able to keep a player and teammate like Jeremy in red and gold. As we evaluated the roster, his production on the field really impressed us and we believe he is a great fit for our scheme. As we learned more and more about him, it became obvious his teammates have a great deal of respect for Jeremy as well. He is a true pro who is an asset to this team on offense, special teams and in the locker room."
The 49ers acquired Kerley in a trade with the Detroit Lions last August 29th. They sent offensive lineman Brandon Thomas to the Lions, and it turned into one of the few bright spots of the 2016 season. Kerley appeared in all 16 games for the 49ers, with 13 starts. he led the team with a career-high 64 receptions for 667 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned 21 punts for 158 yards as the team’s primary punt returner.
The extension is not too pricey, and rewards Kerley with hopes that he can build on last year. It is well deserved for Kerley who stepped up in an otherwise poor wide receiver corps. However, as we look at the 49ers wide receiver needs, we can go into this contract with some possible expectations.
We can talk about Kerley emerging into a dominant receiver who ends up with 100 catches and whatever else in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. But based on past performance, a more realistic expectation in my mind is that he emerges as the 49ers No. 3 receiver. If Kerley leads the team in receptions in 2017, it means the team has not found a capable No. 1 receiver.
It is possible the 49ers draft someone in the first or second round and it takes some time for that receiver to emerge in year two or three. Kerley is a capable receiver, but he is best suited as the No. 3 guy coming out of the slot. If the 49ers added Pierre Garcon, or potentially was able to draft a Mike Williams or Corey Davis, Kerley could be put in a perfect position. But if they come up short this offseason, Kerley could end up with another workhorse type year.