Early in this year’s NFL free agency period, Jason La Canfora reported that the San Francisco 49ers might take a dive into Allen Robinson and Dion Lewis. La Canfora has always been one to take with a certain grain of salt, and this would seem to be another instance of it.
The 49ers gave significantly more money to Jerick McKinnon than the Tennessee Titans gave to Lewis. As for Robinson? According to a Jacksonville Jaguars beat writer, the 49ers might not have even really been in the mix for the free agent wide receiver.
Mike Kaye wrote a series on Robinson’s eventual departure from Jacksonville, and he talked about the leverage Robinson had in negotiations. He eventually signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Bears worth up to $42 million. According to Kaye, the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, and Green Bay Packers were interested early on. Kaye reports that eventually it came down to “a bidding war” between the Packers and Bears.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media on Tuesday, and he talked about the fact that the 49ers did not get aggressive beyond Weston Richburg and Jerick McKinnon. He talked about the need for a proper fit with the team, and specifically, trying not to overpay OK guys. Matt Maiocco had this quotation:
“What you don’t want to do is have a bunch of guys who are OK but are paid like the best,” Shanahan said. “That’s where you get in trouble and have to stay away from in free agency. It’s usually why the draft is the best way to go.”
It tells us the 49ers thought Richburg and McKinnon were not just “OK” guys, and it suggests the 49ers had enough concerns about Robinson that they were not interested in getting into the bidding war. Shanahan has said he was not concerned about overpaying McKinnon, likely because Shanahan felt he was a great fit for what the coach wants to do. That would not seem to apply in the same manner to Robinson.
And so, the 49ers head into the draft with their wide receiver depth chart looking the same as it did entering free agency. The team could decide to add more talent, but for now, they seem to be happy with how the group stands.