The 49ers’ group of wide receivers looked a lot better in the final five games of the regular season – an elevation in production that coincided nicely with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s rise into the starting lineup.
But wide receiver remains a position the club is expected to address this offseason, as a unique style could fit nicely with Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne.
“I think a tall receiver,” 49ers radio analyst Tim Ryan said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.
“I can’t wait to see Pierre Garçon in this offense with this quarterback. We already know what he looks like. And with other real threats around him – guys that have developed, in Marquise and Trent and the tight ends.
“But a big receiver. Someone with length. Someone that’s always open three feet over this head. A guy who plays like Garçon but has about a 6-3 frame on him. That would be outstanding on offense.”
The free-agent signing period opens in mid-March, and a couple of attractive options are not likely to be available. According to reports, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams are expected to place their franchise tags on Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins.
Jarvis Landry could be the top available wide receiver, but he does not appear to fit the 49ers’ need. After all, Landry is 5-foot-11 and is a possession receiver who lacks big-play potential. Landry caught 112 passes for the Miami Dolphins, but his average reception was a paltry 8.8 yards.
One player to watch is Donte Moncrief, who has mostly under-produced with the Indianapolis Colts. He stands 6-2 and has 18 touchdowns in four NFL seasons. The 49ers last year went after Goodwin, who did not show much in his four seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Goodwin turned in his best NFL season in his first year in Kyle Shanahan’s system.
If the 49ers do not fill their need for a tall, red-zone target in free agency, they can also look to the draft. There should be several options available throughout the seven-round draft, such as:
Courtland Sutton (6-3), SMU: Averaged 16.5 yards per catch with 31 TDs over his final three seasons.
Simmie Cobbs Jr (6-3), Indiana: Caught 132 passes for 1,800 yards and 12 TDs in his final two seasons.
Equanimeous St. Brown (6-4), Notre Dame: Caught 91 for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 TDs in final two years.
D.J. Chark (6-3), LSU: Averaged 20.5 yards on 66 receptions over past two seasons.
J’Mon Moore (6-3), Missouri: Back-to-back 1,000 yards seasons with 18 TDs in final two years.
Allen Lazard (6-4), Iowa State: Had 241 catches for 3,360 yards and 26 TDs in four-year career.
Marcell Ateman (6-4), Oklahoma State: Had 59 catches for 1,156 yards and eight TDs as a senior.