Of the pair of new receivers, White is certainly the more well-known option, as the hype was real for the now-28-year-old receiver coming out of college.
Injury has unfortunately gotten in the way, but if the 49ers are signing White, than it must appear as if the former West Virginia Mountaineer is healthy and ready to pick back up his NFL career.
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Background on White
To put it simply, White’s final season with the Mountaineers was a thing of beauty. After 507 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2013, the 6-3, 216-pound weapon exploded for 1,447 receiving yards and ten touchdowns in 13 games, establishing himself as one of the NFL’s top prospects ahead of the 2015 NFL Draft.
However, after joining the Bears that spring, White suffered a stress fracture in his shin, which forced him to the sidelines for the entirety of his rookie season.
After recovering, White was able to get on the field in 2016, but not before the injury woes struck again, with his left leg again the problem, this time coming through a fractured fibula and forcing him to sit out the remainder of the year.
After being a starting receiver for what would end up being a successful Bears season in 2017, a fractured shoulder-blade again undercut White and put him on the injury reserve for a third-consecutive season.
White finished out his time with the Bears in 2018 with 8 appearances and 92 yards, before being released ahead of the 2019 season. While White did link up with the Arizona Cardinals, he was cut in the final rounds of roster trims and sat out the 2019 season to continue getting healthy.
Chances for White Going Forward
If you’ve seen White’s tape and know the personality the receiver has, he’s a guy to root for. The immense amount of talent has always been clear since his college days, but sadly so has his fragility.
The reason why this move makes sense is inherently related to his career: when he’s healthy, he may be one of the NFL’s most talented receivers for his size. But with just 14 total appearances and two whole seasons missed, it’s hard to feel confident about White’s ability to stay on the field.
But if he does, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers will look very shrewd. There’s a real chance that White is able to impress enough into a roster spot, but it will not be easy going.
Jalen Hurd can relate to White’s unfortunate history, as the young receiver is set to miss his second-straight season in 2020. They also have an interesting connection in the fact that, if there was a like-for-like replacement for Hurd on the roster right now, it would be White due to his athleticism and size.
There’s nothing certain about White, which is what makes this difficult. However, if he impresses and the 49ers can keep him healthy, he’s a serious dark-horse contender for a receiver spot this year.
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.