A week ago, the San Francisco 49ers confirmed they would not pick up Earl Mitchell’s option for 2019. At the time, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch acknowledged additional decisions to be made regarding receiver Pierre Garçon. The team has not confirmed anything, but they are not expected to pick up Garçon’s contract for 2019, according to beat writer Matt Maiocco.
The 49ers are not expected to pick up the option on Garçon’s contract, which would make him an unrestricted free agent and open to sign with any team on March 13. Garçon is scheduled to make $6 million in 2019 in salary and bonuses. The move would save the 49ers approximately $1 million on the salary cap.
Garçon signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the 49ers in 2017. He was the first marquee free agent signing for Shanahan and Lynch.
Garçon began his tenure with the 49ers on pace for an 80-catch, 1000-yard season but suffered a season-ending neck fracture in Week 8. He battled shoulder and knee issues throughout 2018 and was only active for eight games, totaling just 24 catches for 286 yards and one touchdown. He landed on injured reserve in December for the second consecutive season.
Former undrafted free agent Kendrick Bourne filled in for Garçon in 2018. He was the 49ers’ leading receiver, catching 42 passes for 487 yards and four touchdowns. Bourne has steadily ascended over the last two seasons and is likely to play a prominent role in Shanahan’s receiving corps in 2019.
Along with Bourne, rookie Dante Pettis emerged as a reliable option in his debut with the 49ers. He accounted for 24 receptions, 371 yards and four touchdowns in the final six games of 2018. Pettis showed a knack for splash plays, averaging 17.9 yards per reception on the season. He also possesses the versatility to play any one of the three receiver spots in the 49ers’ offense.
San Francisco may also turn to the NFL Draft to replace Garçon. The 49ers’ coaching staff got an up-close look at an intriguing prospect while coaching the Senior Bowl in standout Deebo Samuel. The South Carolina receiver totaled 62 receptions for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Gamecocks in 2018. At 6-foot and 210 pounds, Samuel is an intriguing Day 2 option in a similar mold to Garçon. Tommy Call broke down a host of other wide receivers from the Senior Bowl.
With nearly $70 million in projected salary, the 49ers are likely to add their group of receivers through free agency, as well. Green Bay’s Randall Cobb and Philadelphia’s Golden Tate headline a lackluster class. Los Angeles Chargers’ Tyrell Williams (6-4, 205) and Eagles’ Jordan Matthews (6-3, 215) are bigger-bodied receivers worth watching as the 49ers look to improve in the red zone.