On Friday, the Chicago Bears released wide receiver Taylor Gabriel—who was set to make over $5.5 million. Some thought the San Francisco 49ers would acquire Gabriel back at the 2019 trade deadline. Gabriel had his best seasons in the NFL under Kyle Shanahan—who discovered Gabriel at the Cleveland Browns local pro day back when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator.
The 49ers are expected to part ways with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, which will save $3.6 million in cap savings. That doesn’t necessarily mean the 49ers will have a need at receiver. They’re high on Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, and there don’t forget about Dante Pettis or Richie James. Gabriel has the familiarity with Shanahan, so that could give him a leg up over some other free agents. Gabriel also won’t cost much at all. The 49ers could sign him for less than $2 million a season. Gabriel is 29-years old, so it isn’t like he’s going to “breakout” like some of the Niners younger receivers still have a chance to.
In two seasons with Shanahan, Gabriel caught 71 passes for 1200 yards. That’s just under 17 yards per reception. There’s no doubt Shanahan would know what to do with Gabriel in this offense. With that said, what can Gabriel do that James can’t? If the 49ers do bring in Gabriel, it may say more about how Shanahan feels about the talent that’s already on the roster.