It might be extreme to call the 49ers lack of wide receiver depth a ‘problem,’ for them going into the 2021 season, but it stands out when doing an assessment of their roster with training camp lurking. There are a few ways they can go about addressing that if they feel the need to.
Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel top the depth chart, and should provide a quality one-two punch for the 49ers in the run and pass games. After that the options at that position runs the gamut from questionable to bleak.
If a couple of the question marks like Jalen Hurd and Travis Benjamin work out – that group will look a lot better. It stands to reason San Francisco could look to improve their receiving corps, and they have a couple avenues to do so.
Here are seven ways the 49ers can bolster their depth at wide receiver:
Trade for Julio Jones
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This is the best and most obvious way to improve this group. Jones is still one of the four or five best pass catchers in the league even at Age 32. He’d immediately elevate San Francisco’s receiving corps to one of the NFL’s best.
Trade for Anthony Miller
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Miller hasn’t quite broken out in Chicago yet as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. The former Memphis standout is a good option out of the slot and averaged 45 receptions, 521 yards and four touchdowns per year through his first three seasons. A late-round pick for Miller would be helpful in replacing Kendrick Bourne at a cheap rate.
Sign Dede Westbrook
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Westbrook has been in contact with the 49ers, and should be ready for camp after tearing his ACL last October. Prior to getting hurt though he’d fallen out of favor in Jacksonville after racking up a combined 132 catches, 1,377 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2018 and 2019. He’d be another question mark, but he’d help the team’s depth going into camp and give them another option to assess.
Sign Golden Tate
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Tate, 32, is past his prime and turns 33 in August. He’s a free agent though who brings a ton of toughness and at one time was a tremendous receiver after the catch. If nothing else he’d be a reliable veteran who might wind up landing in the fourth or fifth receiver spot depending on how the rest of the group shakes out. He wasn’t good last season for the Giants, but in 2019 with New York he posted 676 yards and six touchdowns on 49 catches. At best he’s the third WR, at worst he’s veteran depth.
Sign Josh Doctson
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Doctson never lived up to his first-round billing after Washington selected him No. 22 overall out of TCU in the 2016 draft. He put together a couple productive years in 2017 and 2018 when he hauled in a combined 79 receptions 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns in 31 games. A hamstring injury limited him to just one game with the Vikings in 2019, and he opted out of last season. He’s in the same category as Westbrook in that he’s a sizable question mark, but adding him gives the 49ers another option to put into the WR3 mix.
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The 49ers ran into a wide receiver problem in 2019 and traded for Emmanuel Sanders. They could find themselves in a similar spot this year if they don’t address the issue before the season. Availability of players will depend on health and team performances, so names aren’t necessarily available. However, if the 49ers still need help after the first few weeks, expect them to explore the market for a game-changing player the way they did with Sanders.