SANTA CLARA -- While Michael Crabtree is all alone on the 49ers' depth chart at one wide receiver spot, there's been an eitheror scenario on the other side.All the attention this training camp has been on additions Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. Quietly, Ted Ginn is listed first among the three receivers that coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers consider "starters."And that's exactly the way Ginn views himself, too.Ginn will earn a 49ers roster spot based primarily on his irreplaceable skills fielding punts and returning kickoffs. But he said he considers himself a wide receiver, first and foremost.After sitting out the offseason program with the same knee injury that kept him out of the NFC Championship, Ginn said he believes he has been given a fair chance during training camp to contribute as a wideout."Yeah, especially coming off the injury and not being able to be in OTAs and the different little spotlights that you'd be able to showcase yourself," Ginn said. "And come in as an older guy in camp, and everybody has been able to show what they have, and still be considered as a starter or in that elite group is a blessing."Ginn figures to be no worse than the 49ers' fourth wide receiver this season because he is virtually assured of suiting up for games because of his return contributions. The 49ers will probably suit up four receivers for games.Ginn, the ninth overall pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 2007 draft, had his best season as a wide receiver in 2008 when he caught 56 passes for 790 yards. But since the 49ers acquired him in 2010 for a fifth-round pick, Ginn has seen a dramatic reduction in his receiving numbers.He caught 12 passes for 163 yards in 2010. He played in 14 games last season with three starts and managed only 19 receptions for 220 yards.Now with a stronger corps of receivers, Ginn is in an even bigger fight to get on the field."You got three or four first-round draft picks all on one squad," Ginn said. "They're great guys. We go out and compete and however it turns out, it'll turn out."As you get older, you start to mature and get wiser. The game is coming to you more and more. Just go out and keep competing and being in a system you have another with, I've been in systems where every year it changes. Just the understanding of it, makes you be who you can be."
The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.
Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.
Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.
Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.
Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.
Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.
Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.
The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.
Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.
If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.
The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)
There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.
“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”
Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.
“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.
“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”