You can tell which reports the 49ers are linked to hold merit and which ones are far-fetched. For example, on Tuesday, a report surfaced that the Niners would have a legitimate interest in All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson of the Patriots.
Jackson would be a dream come true if he came to the Bay Area this offseason. But unfortunately, landing Jackson would require San Francisco to overpay for the elite cornerback.
The 49ers have more holes than cornerback. They were a mess on special teams last season. Their returners weren’t confident and too often left yards on the field or put the team in a bad spot field position-wise.
Help could potentially be on the way for the 49ers as Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports reported San Francisco is among six teams interested in Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud, who led the NFL in punt return yardage in 2021, was fourth in kick return yardage and finished seventh in all-purpose yards.
McCloud is 5’9, 190 pounds, and 25 years old. He didn’t have a significant role in Pittsburgh’s offense early on last year, but he had five games from November on where McCloud saw at least eight targets. That tells you he’s more than just a “gadget” player.
Each year, the Niners have taken a swing on a speedy, undersized receiver. Travis Benjamin didn’t work out, and neither did Trent Sherfield. So McCloud would be the next in line.
I wouldn’t put too much stock into McCloud’s stats as he was primarily used as an underneath receiver on RPOs and in the screen/quick game. Last year, the quarterback for the Steelers struggled to push the ball down the field further than 15 yards. The 49ers quarterback in 2022 will not have those same issues.