The 49ers last week agreed to terms with free-agent slot receiver Travis Benjamin, and Donte Whitner was not the least-bit surprised 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wanted him.
“I played with Travis Benjamin in Cleveland while Kyle Shanahan was our offensive coordinator. And let me tell you, he loved Travis Benjamin,” Whitner said on 49ers Central.
Whitner played safety for 11 NFL seasons, including two years with the Cleveland Browns. He and Benjamin were teammates. Shanahan spent the 2014 season in Cleveland as the offensive coordinator.
“Travis Benjamin fits this offense perfectly,” Whitner said. “With those guys crossing the middle and being able to break back and have down-the-football-field speed, he fits in automatically with his offense.
“If you can get Marquise Goodwin to wake up on the outside, you’ll have two of the fastest wide receivers in the National Football League.”
Benjamin is expected to compete primarily with Trent Taylor, Richie James and Dante Pettis for the 49ers’ slot receiver role, as well as punt returner. He joins a receiving corps that currently also includes Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd and Goodwin.
Benjamin, 30, has seen his production decline for the past four seasons while with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers organization. The past two seasons Benjamin was limited by foot and quadriceps injuries. He appeared in just 16 games over the past two seasons and caught just 18 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown.
Benjamin entered the NFL in 2012 as a fourth-round pick of the Browns. He ran a time of 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but Whitner said that number is deceiving.
“I guarantee you if you talked to any defensive back that played with him and had to cover him on a day-to-day basis, they will say that he runs a lot faster than 4.36,” Whitner said.