After injuries to Deebo Samuel and Richie James Jr. as well as the opt-out of Travis Benjamin, San Francisco’s receiving group was seemingly dwindling in numbers and experience even before Hurd’s injury this past weekend.
The 49ers have already signed Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson as potential new faces, and now the team is apparently interested in bringing in another option after Hurd’s injury, with former Seattle Seahawk and Arizona Cardinal Jaron Brown working out for San Francisco this week according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 17, 2020
While the team would rather have a promising talent like Hurd, they now have to look for reinforcements for a player who was expected to have a dynamic impact in 2020.
Like Austin and Nelson, Brown has an impressive resume of NFL experience, which is one of the few areas the 49ers’ receiving group doesn’t exactly excel in.
Coming undrafted out of Clemson ahead of the 2013 season, Brown made his way onto the Cardinals’ roster as a special teams player and the fifth-to-sixth option for Arizona as a receiver.
In his first four seasons as a Cardinal, Brown only eclipsed more than 200 receiving yards once, and only recorded more than one touchdown in a season once, both coming in his sophomore 2014 season.
After 700 yards and five touchdowns over his first four seasons with Arizona, Brown took on a bigger role in year No. 5, starting eight games in the 2017 season and bringing down a career-high 477 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Testing the waters in free agency meant heading over to NFC West rivals Seattle, where he continued to step up his production, with a career-high five touchdowns with the Seahawks in 2018.
2019 saw the receiver finish with two touchdowns and 220 yards as well as the team parting ways with the 30-year-old receiver, which is how San Francisco has been able to bring in the former Tiger for a work out.
Potential with San Francisco
No matter what, the loss of Hurd will feel like a blow. He’s a player many fans were excited to see, especially after losing his 2019 season, and now the wait will continue for another year.
However, the 49ers could do worse than Brown, and the added experience that he offers, which includes five playoff appearances, is a major positive for a group that is relatively young compared to the average NFL team.
Brown won’t offer much of the same skillset that Hurd’s sheer athleticism was expected to offer, but as a 6-3, 200-pound-plus option, he’s closer to Hurd’s massive frame and will be a nice complementary option to the likes of Deebo Samuel and rookie Brandon Aiyuk.
It will be interesting to see if the 49ers go forward with Brown, and who they go with among him, Austin and Nelson. Each offer something a little different, but boast immense amount of experience.
While it’s not the training camp battle many were expecting at receiver, the 49ers’ receiver race for final roster spots has been interesting to say the least.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.