The latest NFL star to potentially join that list? Former Cowboy Dez Bryant, who spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons either injured/away from the NFL after three Pro Bowl selections and an All-Pro selection in eight seasons in Dallas.
However, a recent tweet from San Francisco receiver Kendrick Bourne has drawn attention to a potential return for Bryant.
Typically, a few emojis and a tag isn’t a reason to look into the possibilities of Dez coming to Santa Clara, California for his return, but the 31-year-old didn’t shy away from a response to Bourne.
While Bryant did join up with the New Orleans Saints ahead of the 2018 season, an injury sidelined the former Oklahoma State standout before he could ever take a snap. Now, a year out of the league and four years on from his last Pro Bowl selection, would it make sense for both the 49ers and Dez to link up?
49ers’ Injuries and Receiver Group
If Bourne and Bryant made jokes on social media a few weeks back, this could likely be dismissed as a joke. Between receivers Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Bourne and several other proven pass-catchers on the roster, signing Bryant wouldn’t make a ton of sense.
However, Samuel’s suffering a jones fracture and and depth WR Richie James Jr. breaking his wrist, it’s no longer a far-fetched possibility. The 49ers now have a bit more uncertainty at the position, and Bryant is a player that not only could contribute, but is a type of receiver that the 49ers don’t have in spades.
Bryant’s biggest strength throughout his career is well-rounded athleticism, but his arguably greatest skill is utilizing his 6’2″ frame to separate and make catches.
As his speed has decreased, his dominance over corners has as well, but with unproven, albeit talented receivers Jalen Hurd and Jauan Jennings being the only options taller than Bryant, the former Cowboy’s case is better than maybe some expect.
Terrell Owens Adds His Two Cents
While Bryant may seem like a longshot to many Cowboys and 49ers fans, he’s not the only former All-Pro receiver to show some interest in a return. The thing working for Dez? He’s about a decade-and-a-half younger than T.O.
While Owens is more than likely joking, just the idea of the five-time All-Pro receiver making a return to the league and with one of his former teams is simply too sensational to not acknowledge.
T.O. was last on an NFL roster in 2012 at the age of 38, when he was on the Seattle Seahawks but didn’t get to the 53-man roster or play a regular-season snap in his initial return.
While Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is still playing at a competitive level in his mid-40s, the 49ers are months removed from a Super Bowl appearance and a 13-3 regular season. T.O. and Bryant would be entertaining additions, but it’s hard to see how they would truly make San Francisco a better squad.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and follow Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.