Heading into the offseason, the 49ers‘ wide receiver position one of the least of their worries, though they’ll want to add some depth.
ESPN’s Mike Clay made some predictions in free agency and has the San Francisco 49ers signing Indianapolis Colts’ receiver T.Y. Hilton:
“If the Colts upgrade to Allen Robinson, that will means the end of Hilton’s time with the team that drafted him. Hilton will certainly be looking to join a contender in his age-32 season, and the 49ers are a fit. Deebo Samuel (2019 second round) and Brandon Aiyuk (2020 first round) form a potentially outstanding duo, but injuries and inexperience loom large. Hilton would bring reliability and a veteran presence to the wide receiver room.”
Hilton finished this past season having 56 catches for 762 yards and five touchdowns. 2020 marked his second-straight weekend with less than 800 receiving yards after never finishing with less than 861 in his first seven years in the league. Hilton is a four-time Pro Bowler and has five 1,000-yard seasons, with his highest being of 1,448 yards in 2016. The last time Hilton reached a 1,000-yard was in 2018 when he had 1,270 on 76 receptions.
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Injuries Loom the Niners’ WR Depth
In his rookie year, Samuel had 57 receptions for 802 yards and three touchdowns with 14 rushes for 159 yards and three scores. Last season was botched for Samuel after Deebo suffered a Jones fracture which kept him sidelined for the first three games and then missed a handful of other games due to a hamstring injury and COVID-19 protocols. He finished the season playing in just seven games having 33 receptions for 391 yards and a score.
Aiyuk’s 2020 season was a bit more successful having 60 receptions, 748 yards, five touchdowns, six rushes for 77 yards, and two scores.
As long as both stay healthy, they are likely to headline the Niners’ wide receiver depth chart in 2021.
Other Options at Wideout for Niners
Of course, the Niners currently have other options at wide receiver but they’re not the consistency they need.
Richie James Jr.’s contract isn’t up until 2021 and while he’s shown some flashes, he hasn’t been a reliable third option. He finished the last season with a career-high 23 receptions for 394 yards.
Kendrick Bourne is set to become an unrestricted free agent after finishing 2020 having a career-high season with 49 receptions and 667 yards. Bourne also added two touchdowns. Bourne could be out of the Niners’ budget once he hits the open market at $6.3 million.
The Niners could also lose Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd, who unfortunately haven’t lived up to expectations.
The Niners might fork up some money for Bourne if they can or possibly give James more playing time, but if not then expect coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch to look to free-agency whether it’s Hilton or another affordable free agent.
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