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2017 NFL free agency preview: Wide receiver

With free agency approaching, it is time to run down the 49ers roster, looking at cap space and free agency possibilities.

The NFL is just a few days away from the start of free agency! The NFL Combine will keep us occupied in the meantime, but there is plenty to figure out in the meantime. The 49ers have a lot of holes to fill, and with 11 draft picks and a ton of cap space, they have a lot of options at their disposal.

Over the next two weeks, we are going to take a look at each major position group on the 49ers roster. We’ll take a look at the 49ers current situation, impending free agents, and look at the top five or ten players set to hit the market. Today, we move on to the wide receiver position.

This follows the notable Saturday news that 49ers re-signed wide receiver Jeremy Kerley to a reported three-year, $10.5 million deal. Kerley led the team with 64 catches for 667 yards, and had three touchdowns in 2016. Kerley makes for a solid receiver out of the slot and should continue to flourish under Kyle Shanahan.

Current roster

Torrey Smith

2017 cap hit: $9,475,000
2018 cap hit: $9,600,000
2019 cap hit: $9,600,000

Jeremy Kerley

2017 cap hit: TBD
2018 cap hit: TBD
2019 cap hit: TBD

Bruce Ellington

2017 cap hit: $808,607

Aaron Burbridge

2017 cap hit: $565,089
2018 cap hit: $655,089
2019 cap hit: $745,089

Chris Harper

2017 cap hit: $615,000

Eric Rogers

2017 cap hit: $527,500

DeAndre Carter

2017 cap hit: $465,000
2018 cap hit: $555,000

DeAndre Smelter

2017 cap hit: $465,000

Rashad Ross

2017 cap hit: $615,000

Free agents: Quinton Patton, Rod Streater

The 49ers need a true number one, playmaking receiver, which would put Torrey Smith in a better position as the number two. One option that is being thrown out is Chicago’s Alshon Jefferey, but he is injury prone and that’s not the only issue. He missed four games last season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. One would hope he learned his lesson, but when it comes to paying a high price tag, all things have to be taken into consideration.

Perhaps a better fit would be the Browns’ Terelle Pryor, who should also get a close look from Shanahan and John Lynch. He had 77 receptions for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, which was his first season in the position.

One more name to consider is Washington’s Pierre Garcon. He will be 31 by the start of the 2017 season, but it could behoove the 49ers to bring in a veteran wide receiver, especially one whose best season came under Shanahan, as Fooch pointed out here.

San Francisco will add at least a couple of wide receivers in the draft, so this position should be significantly improved over last season.

2017 NFL free agency

Jeremy Ross, Arizona Cardinals
Eric Weems, Atlanta Falcons
Aldrick Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens
Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills
Justin Hunter, Buffalo Bills
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
Ted Ginn Jr., Carolina Panthers
Brenton Bersin, Carolina Panthers
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Deonte Thompson, Chicago Bears
Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears
Brandon LaFell, Cincinnati Bengals
Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland Browns
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Brice Butler, Dallas Cowboys
Jordan Norwood, Denver Broncos
Marlon Brown, Denver Broncos
Anquan Boldin, Detroit Lions
Andre Roberts, Detroit Lions
Bryan Walters, Jacksonville Jaguars
Kenny Britt, Los Angeles Rams
Brian Quick, Los Angeles Rams
Stedman Bailey, Los Angeles Rams
Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
Michael Floyd, New England Patriots
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders
Michael Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeremy Kerley, San Francisco 49ers
Rod Streater, San Francisco 49ers
Quinton Patton, San Francisco 49ers
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Russell Shepard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cecil Shorts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
Marc Mariani, Tennessee Titans
Pierre Garcon, Washington
DeSean Jackson, Washington