After weeks of seeing other NFL teams have players opt out, the San Francisco 49ers have their first of the offseason and two days before the deadline.
Taking to Twitter Thursday evening, San Francisco receiver Travis Benjamin announced that he would be opting out ahead of what-would-have-been his ninth season in the league.
Benjamin kept his statement relatively short, citing familial reasons as his reason for opting out:
First, I would like to thank the 49ers organization for their continued support. After much consideration and discussion with my family I have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season as I feel this is the best decision for my family. I will continue to support my teammates and many friends around the league this season. As we continue to navigate this pandemic I wish that everyone stays safe.
So, the 49ers lose a veteran option at receiver that was expected to compete with some of the team’s younger, inexperienced players as well as a receiver who’s proven his ability consistently at the NFL level.
Travis Benjamin’s Career
After four seasons as a Miami Hurricane, Benjamin was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, thanks to his impressive athleticism and consistent production in college despite never having any top-level quarterbacks.
Benjamin’s start in the NFL was relatively slow, only starting six games over the 2012 and 2013 seasons in Cleveland, totaling 403 yards and missing several games to injury.
After a marginally better season with 313 yards and three touchdowns besides not starting a single game, the Browns gave Benjamin a nod as a starter in 2015, which saw the now-30-year-old make his name in the NFL.
Racking up 966 receiving yards and five touchdowns, Benjamin performed well enough to hit free agency and join the Los Angeles Chargers on a $24 million contract with $13 million guaranteed.
However, Benjamin took a supporting role to Keenan Allen, and totaled 1,430 receiving yards over his first three seasons, before being altogether unused in 2019 with 30 total yards all season.
What do the 49ers Lose?
Well, to be honest, not much on the field. Benjamin was on a prove it deal with San Francisco, basically joining for the veteran minimum, and was more considered to be an option in case of injury or in certain situations.
However, the loss of Benjamin out of the locker room will be something head coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff will likely miss, as the 49ers aren’t exactly well-versed in experience at receiver, despite a notable selection of talent.
With rookies like Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk and Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings, having that veteran presence could have helped them develop, settle and learn the ins and outs of the NFL.
This could even go for Deebo Samuel. The receiver has proven in his rookie year that he has the talent and skill to compete at the NFL’s highest levels, but he is also a talent to be molded.
The 49ers are likely going to be fine without Benjamin this season, and his presence wouldn’t have likely made a huge difference in-game, but there was a reason why the 49ers added the former Charger.
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.