The San Francisco 49ers are officially into the offseason following a 2018 season that did not meet expectations. The team entered with hopes of contending for a playoff appearance, but stumbled to a 4-12 record after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn ACL in Week 3.
Expectations will climb again in 2019, but before we get into that, it’s time to take a look back at the season that was for the current roster. There will be turnover in the coming months, but I thought we’d start the offseason with a stock report on the roster. We’ll go through each position group and offer stock up or stock down for each player, and then stock up or stock down for the position group as a whole. Today we move on to the wide receivers.
Pierre Garçon: Stock down
It was very much a down year for Garçon, with a knee injury eight of the final nine games of the season. He finished the season with 24 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown, and his best performance was five receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown in his last game on November 1st.
The question now is if he is on the roster this coming September. Prior to his neck injury in 2017, he was on pace for a 1,000-yard season. I don’t think his knee injury this year is related to his neck injury last year, but at 32 years of age, he would appear to be starting to break down. Odds are pretty decent he’s not on the 49ers roster this fall.
Marquise Goodwin: Stock down
A year after coming up just shy of 1,000 yards in a breakout campaign, it was a decided step back for Goodwin in 2018. He finished with 23 receptions for 395 yards and four touchdowns. The last number was a career high, and it was clear the play-making skills were still there, but the consistency was not. He dealt with a personal issue that cost him time in the middle of the season, and it was just an overall down year. He signed a three-year extension last March, and if he is on the roster April 1st this year, his $2.95 million base salary for 2019 becomes fully guaranteed. He could still be one of the deep threats in 2019, but he has some work to do to rebound from a shaky 2018.
Dante Pettis: Stock up
If we were assessing stock at the halfway point of the season, Pettis would have been down. Through the first nine weeks, Pettis had played in six games and caught three receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Only halfway through his rookie season, bust was being thrown around to describe him.
However, in Week 10, he started to see more work, even if his numbers were not great (four receptions for 12 yards). Then, he got the start in place of Goodwin in Week 11, and he proceeded to explode on the scene. Over the next five weeks he scored four touchdowns and had 17 receptions for 338 yards. George Kittle was the leading receiver, but Pettis became a playmaker down the field.
Kendrick Bourne: Stock up
Things were rather quiet for Bourne in the first half of the season, but he took a big step forward after Garçon got hurt. Bourne replaced him in the starting lineup, and put together a career year. He finished with 42 receptions for 487 yards and four touchdowns. His numbers don’t jump off the page, but he puts the 49ers in a position to decide if he might e the guy who can replace Garçon in 2019. The 49ers are likely still looking for a true No. 1, but Bourne could be a solid move the sticks, possession-type of receiver.
Trent Taylor: Stock down
Offseason back surgery slowed Taylor out of the gate, and even though it was described as mostly cleaning some things up, it clearly was an issue most of the year. A year after proving himself as the most consistent third down option, Taylor finished his second season with 26 receptions for 215 yards and a touchdown. My hope is that an offseason of healing up will do the trick and get him back into the mix in 2019 as a key slot weapon.
Richie James: Stock slightly up
It was a shaky year as a receiver for James, and I would say his value is up more for his return work. He had some rookie woes, but he finished the season seventh in average kickoff return. A 97-yard touchdown return will help that, but he showed what kind of abilities he brings to the table. His roster spot is far from secure in 2019, but he did some good things to close out the 2018 season.
Overall: Stock up
The 49ers don’t have a true No. 1, or at least have not seen enough from their current group to say they have that kind of receiver. And yet, even though they got down years from the two players they counted on the most, I contend that the emergence of Pettis and Bourne makes up for that in the bigger picture of this unit’s development. Garçon was never viewed as a long term piece of the puzzle, while Goodwin showed he could be part of the puzzle but regressed this year. Pettis is a guy they want to be able to build around, and Bourne could prove to be a huge value even though he went undrafted in 2017. This is a unit that made progress in terms of what we’re hoping for long-term.