The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday at 1 p.m. This is Part One of a series that examines the 49ers’ biggest offseason needs and their options in free agency.
Let’s get one thing straight: The 49ers do not need a No. 1 wide receiver.
Would they like to get one? Of course. Do they need one? No. After all, championship teams of late rarely are headlined by a All-Pro caliber wide receiver.
But what the 49ers want to accomplish this offseason is to add a starting wide receiver to strengthen the overall depth chart. Dante Pettis, a second-round pick last season, is projected as a starter.
The other starting position is up for grabs between Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin and a player or two not yet on the team’s 90-man roster.
"I have big expectations for Dante," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "We did before we drafted him. We had it throughout this year, and we expect him to continue to get better. I think he went through the normal rookie-type ups and downs that a lot of them do as receivers.
"I expect him to come in (this) year and be even better. He's a guy who can play all three of the positions. He's also a good returner, and we're very excited that we have Dante."
Due to Pettis' versatility, the 49ers have the flexibility acquire a big, possession-style receiver or a speed-burner to match with Pettis on the outside.
On the roster: Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Richie James, Max McCaffrey, Steven Dunbar, Jordan Smallwood.
On the market: The wide receivers scheduled for free agency include Golden Tate (Philadelphia), Tyrell Williams (L.A. Chargers), John Brown (Baltimore) and Donte Moncrief (Jacksonville). Tate is the most-productive of the group, but he is 30 and figures to receive a sizable contract as an unrestricted free agent. Williams (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) is coming off a 41-catch season that totaled 653 yards and five touchdowns. He started 10 of the Chargers’ 16 games. Brown and Moncrief may not be improvements over Bourne, who caught 42 passes for 487 yards and four TDs as a second-year player.
Offseason approach: The 49ers showed no interest in adding Antonio Brown in a trade. However, Odell Beckham might be a different story. If he were to become available in a trade with the New York Giants, the 49ers would almost certainly be interested. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a No. 1 receiver. Otherwise, it is difficult to see the 49ers spending big money to lure one of the free agents currently on the market. The team's most likely approach would be to invest their second-round pick, No. 36 overall, on the top available rookie wide receiver on their draft board.