The 49ers head into the offseason with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk penciled in as their starting wide receivers, but they have question marks behind them.
Kendrick Bourne is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and might command a higher price than the 49ers are willing to pay. Richie James currently is the No. 3 receiver on the roster, but the 49ers will look to acquire receiver depth this offseason both in the NFL draft and on the free-agent market.
A potential target became available Friday when the Philadelphia Eagles released veteran wideout DeSean Jackson.
Jackson, 34, played in only eight games over the past two seasons while battling core, ankle and other ailments. During his second stint with the Eagles, Jackson hauled in 23 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns.
Due to his age and injury history, Jackson should not expect a robust market to greet him in free agency. He'll need to prove he can stay healthy and would best be suited on a contending team with a deeper stable of receivers who can weather him missing a few games.
When healthy, Jackson still flashed blazing speed and deep-threat ability with the Eagles. He would give the 49ers a guy who could stretch the field vertically, opening up space to allow Aiyuk, Samuel and tight end George Kittle to operate in the short and intermediate area.
There's no reason to expect Jackson to come off the market early in free agency, and the 49ers will have to survey all their options before deciding the best way to provide depth behind Samuel and Aiyuk.
Trent Taylor opened the season as the 49ers' slot receiver but was benched due to lack of production. Taylor is set to be an unrestricted free agent and it seems unlikely he will return.
The 49ers hope Jalen Hurd can stay healthy this offseason and finally see the field in 2021, but they can't bank on Hurd staying healthy.
If the 49ers are unwilling to pay Bourne then it is unlikely they would pay other wide receivers in his bracket, such as Rashard Higgins or Keelan Cole.
But the 49ers could look at the likes of Demarcus Robinson, David Moore or Josh Reynolds to provide a stable presence as the No. 3 wide receivers and perhaps give Jackson a cheap deal to prove he can stay healthy. More receivers will hit the open market in the coming weeks, and due to the shrinking cap number, some of them might have to accept smaller deals than they would typically expect. That's potentially something a contender facing a cap crunch, like the 49ers, can take advantage of.
Wide receiver is among the many positions the 49ers have to address this offseason. While a Bay Area reunion for Jackson sounds good in theory, it should only come on a low-cost deal and he shouldn't be at the top of the 49ers' list.