The San Francisco 49ers went from not even trying in 2016 to being aggressive in free agency for the 2017 season. One of the many players signed was wide receiver Pierre Garçon. A great signing for a player familiar with Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system from their days in Washington.
Garçon was a bright spot in the beginnings of the 49ers’ offensive transition, getting 40 receptions for a straight 500 yards and on pace for his third 1,000 receiving yard season of his career. Unfortunately in Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles, a shove from Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham led to a non-displaced fracture of the C-5 pedicle (neck injury). This put him on IR and fans never got to see the wide receiver catching passes from eventual starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Nothing has indicated that his recovery didn’t progress as expected, but the 49ers have drafted a few wide receivers and Garçon is getting up there in age. Regardless of concerns, if he can bring the same production as last year, he could have a career season under Garoppolo.
Age: 31 (turns 32 August 8th)
Experience: 10 accrued seasons
Weight: 211 pounds
He is in year two of a five-year, $33.75 million deal. With incentives, this number could increase as high as $47.5 million. His 2018 salary will be $6.625 million with $4.325 of it guaranteed. 2019, 2020, and 2021 are all option years. Mike Garafolo described these final three years as a three-year deal with the final two years being dummy years
Why he might improve in 2018
Garçon will improve as a direct result of the offense around him improving. Remember, this guy had Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard as his quarterbacks, he never got Jimmy Garoppolo. Because of the pieces around him getting a jolt, we may see a return to form. Even with a lesser quarterback, Garçon still put up solid numbers, though he didn’t record a single touchdown in eight games. Marquise Goodwin stepped up in a huge way in Garçon’s injury absence as well as other wide receivers, but one had to wonder just how much more efficient things would be if Garçon could hit the field. Someone with Garçon’s pedigree could make this offense even filthier as another go-to guy for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Why he might regress in 2018
No one beats the clock. Garçon will be 32 when the season gets going and that’s about the age wide receivers and running backs start slowing down. Players like Anquan Boldin were able to get to their mid-30s without losing a step while others like Calvin Johnson called it quits earlier. This wouldn’t be a concern, however the 49ers had wide receivers stepping up in 2017, and have drafted Dante Pettis with some speculation he may become the new No. 1 receiver. Plus, Garçon is coming back from a neck injury. While it’s not an ACL injury, those aren’t broken fingers. Garçon is going to be getting a decent salary in 2018 and the dead money ($6.725 million) may be enough to keep him around if he’s being outplayed by the youngsters.
Odds of making the roster
Despite his age, Garçon is a lock to make the roster. He offers veteran presence for the young wide receiver group and besides speculation of slowing down, hasn’t suggested any of it yet. 2019 will be the year to watch as those become his option years and the 49ers can decide whether to bring him in for a third year. That will depend on his play and the play of their newly solidified wide receiving group.