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Golden Nuggets: Will WR Jauan Jennings make the team in 2021?

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Wednesday, February 24, 2021

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San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We have a couple of articles coming today that will take a look back on where we were wrong. I think it’s important to hold yourself accountable but at the same time know that being wrong is part of the game.

Former 49ers receiver Dick Witcher dies at 76

Former 49ers receiver Dick Witcher has died, the team announced Tuesday. Witcher was 76.

Witcher spent his entire eight-year career with the 49ers. The team selected him in the eighth-round of the 1966 draft.

He appeared in 109 games with 59 starts.

Witcher finished his career with 172 receptions for 2,359 yards and 14 touchdowns.

His best season was his second season when he made 46 receptions for 705 yards and three touchdowns in 1967.

Why the 49ers Can’t Trade for Deshaun Watson Until June 1

On that date, the Texans can trade Watson and take on a dead-cap hit of just $5.4 million. Meaning if they trade him on June 1 or after, they will save more than $10 million in cap space for 2021. So the Texans have to wait until June 1 at the earliest to trade Watson. And by then, the 2021 NFL Draft will be complete. So whichever team trades for Watson won’t have to trade draft picks in 2021 to get him. Instead, they’ll trade future draft picks and players.

Which could be good news for the 49ers, because they won’t have to trade the 12th pick in the upcoming draft to land Watson. They still would have to send the Texans six or seven assets — some combination of high future draft picks and foundational players. And I can’t think of a team in NFL history that traded six or seven assets for one player and won a Super Bowl. But that’s another issue.

If the 49ers want Watson, they must be patient.

The top 10 under-the-radar 49ers in position to make a splash in 2021

4. WR Jauan Jennings

A seventh-round pick in 2020, Jennings didn’t make the team’s initial 2020 roster. Instead, he was placed on the practice squad. Still, Shanahan said Jennings would have been elevated in the second half of the season if not for a nasty hamstring injury he suffered in October. Jennings was going through the last stages of his rehabilitation when the team was practicing in Arizona at season’s end and should be full-go for the start of the offseason program.

Where he fits: The 49ers obviously want Jalen Hurd, a third-round pick in 2019, to take over the so-called “big slot” role in Shanahan’s offense. Hurd, however, is coming off an August ACL tear and likely won’t be available in the spring. That ought to give Jennings a leg up in trying to find his niche on the 49ers roster.

Can the 49ers Trade Jimmy Garoppolo and a Pick for Stephon Gilmore?

But Garoppolo isn’t worth much in a trade because of his extensive injury history. So instead of trading him for a third- or fourth-round pick, the 49ers can trade him and their own third-round pick for a stud player — Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Gilmore is entering the final year of his contract and he’s scheduled to cost the Patriots more than $15 million in 2021. They might want to deal him now and clear some cap space.

If the 49ers trade for Gilmore, he would cost them only $8 million in 2021, meaning he’d be cheaper than Jason Verrett most likely. So the 49ers could let Verrett walk in free agency, or re-sign him and play him next to Gilmore and create the best cornerback tandem in the NFL.

Where the 49ers stand after the Carson Wentz deal: A QB trade market appraisal

Availability is the grand caveat with Garoppolo, and concern regarding it has fueled two separate undercurrents: It’s encouraged the 49ers to check in on other QB possibilities — especially when it comes to depth at the position — and it’s likely depressed Garoppolo’s potential trade value.

Garoppolo hasn’t played poorly enough to be categorized as a reclamation project, but he hasn’t been healthy frequently enough to be a highly coveted quarterback.

Because of that dynamic, Garoppolo’s 2021 salary-cap hit of about $26 million — which ranks No. 13 among NFL quarterbacks — is likely palatable to only a small handful of teams. The 49ers, however, remain one of them.