49ers' free-agent options at wide receiver

January 30, 2012, 4:44 pm
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The 49ers can re-sign their own free agents at any time. But they must wait until March 13 to begin adding players who ended the season on the rosters of other teams.More than six weeks after the beginning of free agency is the NFL draft. So the 49ers will first pick their way through the crop of possible veteran additions before getting a chance to strengthen the roster through the draft.
A year ago, the 49ers added receivers in the draft and free agency, but they got nothing from either Ronald Johnson, a sixth-round pick from USC who was cut loose and not even retained on the practice squad, or veteran Braylon Edwards.In the first week of free agency, the 49ers had to believe they were adding a starting wide receiver when they signed Edwards to a one-year, low-risk contract.But Edwards got injured, became disengaged, and the 49ers unceremoniously parted ways with him without being required to give him any injury settlement. They cut him just as their need at wide receiver had never been greater.At the end of the season, the 49ers had no depth behind Michael Crabtree. Kyle Williams started in the NFC Championship Game, and did not catch a pass (Of course, Crabtree had only one reception for 3 yards). And the 49ers had more confidence in a second tight end, Delanie Walker, who had not played in a month due to a fractured jaw as an option in the passing game over Brett Swain, their third wideout.
Crabtree, who is signed through 2014, figures prominently in the 49ers' future -- and for good reason. In a passing offense that ranked 29th in the NFL at just 183.1 yards per game, Crabtree was 28th in the NFL among wideouts with a career-high 874 yards receiving. And he also scored major bonus points with the coaching staff for his determination and effectiveness as a blocker in the 49ers' offense.The 49ers should be able to re-sign Joshua Morgan, who might not have much market value after ending the season on injured reserve. Morgan is recovering nicely from surgery to repair a broken leg just above the ankle. He should be cleared to take part in the offseason program. Morgan caught 15 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown in five games. (Projected over a full season, that's 48 catches for 704 yards.)The 49ers' other free agent at wide receiver is Ted Ginn, who accepted a 1.2 million pay cut just prior to the start of the regular season to remain on the team. Ginn's value is as a return man. In 14 games, he caught just 19 passes for 220 yards.The 49ers can be expected to look for outside help -- free agency and the draft. Let's focus here on free agency with a look at the top receivers from the 2011 season who do not have contracts for next season with their current teams.(The following players can be re-sign by their current teams before March 13, or their clubs can give them a one-year, 9.4 million contract to be their franchise players.)FREE AGENT WIDE RECEIVERS
Wes Welker, New England
5-9, 185, Age 31 in May
16 games, 122 receptions, 1,569 yards, 12.9 avg, 9 TDsRELATED: Wes Welker career profile 2011 game logs
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City
6-2, 221, Age 28 in September
16 games, 81 receptions, 1,159 yards, 14.3 avg, 5 TDsRELATED: Dwayne Bowe career profile 2011 game logsMarques Colston, New Orleans
6-4, 225, Age 29 in June
14 games, 80 receptions, 1,143 yards, 14.3 avg, 8 TDsRELATED: Marques Colston career profile 2011 game logsVincent Jackson, San Diego
6-5, 230, Age 29
16 games, 60 receptions, 1,106 yards, 18.4 avg, 9 TDsRELATED: Vincent Jackson career profile 2011 game logsStevie Johnson, Buffalo
6-2, 210, Age 26 in July
16 games, 76 receptions, 1,004 yards, 13.2 avg, 7 TDsRELATED: Stevie Johnson career profile 2011 game logsBrandon Lloyd, St. Louis
6-0, 188, Age 31 in July
15 games, 70 receptions, 966 yards, 13.8 avg, 5 TDsRELATED: Brandon Lloyd career profile 2011 game logsDeSean Jackson, Philadelphia
5-10, 176, Age 25
15 games, 58 receptions, 961 yards, 16.6 avg, 4 TDs.RELATED: DeSean Jackson career profile 2011 game logsReggie Wayne, Indianapolis
6-0, 198, Age 33
16 games, 75 receptions, 960 yards, 12.8 avg, 4 TDs.RELATED: Reggie Wayne career profile 2011 game logsPierre Garcon, Indianapolis
6-0, 210, Age 26 in August
16 games, 70 receptions, 947 yards, 13.5 avg, 6 TDsRELATED: Pierre Garcon career profile 2011 game logsLaurent Robinson, Dallas
6-2, 194, Age 27 in May
14 games, 54 receptions, 858 yards, 15.9 avg, 11 TDsRELATED: Laurent Robinson career profile 2011 game logsJerome Simpson, Cincinnati
6-2, 190, Age 26 in February
16 games, 50 receptions, 725 yards, 14.5 avg, 4 TDsRELATED: Jerome Simpson career profile 2011 game logsDeion Branch, New England
5-9, 195, Age 33 in July
15 games, 51 receptions, 702 yards, 13.8 avg, 5 TDsRELATED: Deion Branch career profile 2011 game logsEarly Doucet, Arizona
6-0, 212, Age 26
16 games, 54 receptions, 689 yards, 12.8 avg, 5 TDsRELATED: Early Doucet career profile 2011 game logsRobert Meachem, New Orleans
6-2, 210, Age 28 in September
16 games, 40 receptions, 620 yards, 15.5 avg, 6 TDsRELATED: Robert Meachem career profile 2011 game logsPlaxico Burress, N.Y. Jets
6-5, 232, Age 35 in August
16 games, 45 receptions, 612 yards, 13.6 avg, 8 TDsRELATED: Plaxico Burress career profile 2011 game logsMario Manningham, New York Giants
6-0, 185, Age 26 in May
12 games, 39 receptions, 523 yards, 13.4 avg, 4 TDs.RELATED: Mario Manningham career profile 2011 game logs