49ers Sign Ex-Patriots WR, Lose Punt Returner to Bengals: Report

Marqise Lee Patriots 49ers

Getty Former Jaguars WR Marqise Lee fends off a Patriots defender.

The San Francisco 49ers are continuing to churn the wide receiver depth chart ahead of mandatory minicamp after attempting to trade for DaeSean Hamilton before the Denver Broncos wideout tore his ACL on May 14, ending his 2021 season before it began.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Monday, May 17, the 49ers are now instead signing veteran wide receiver Marqise Lee, though financial terms were not immediately made available. With San Francisco currently at capacity on its 90-man offseason roster, third-year wide receiver Austin Proehl was waived in a corresponding move.

Lee, who was one of five tryout players to participate in 49ers rookie minicamp over the weekend, will likely compete for snaps as a fourth or fifth pass-catching option behind the likes of Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Mohamed Sanu and Travis Benjamin.

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Lee Opted out of 2020 Season With Patriots

Marqise Lee | Official 2017 – 18 Regular Season HighlightsJacksonville receiver Marqise Lee's 2017 highlight tape from weeks 1 – 13, 2017 – 18 season. ————————————————————————————————- Song: Vince Staples – BagBak ————————————————————————————————- *Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a…2017-12-16T18:05:10Z

Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area wrote on Monday that Lee “immediately stood out when he made a nice catch in traffic over the middle on a pass from [Trey] Lance” during rookie minicamp, adding that he hauled in three passes from the No. 3 pick during Friday’s seven-on-seven drills.

Lee was most recently released by the New England Patriots on March 18 after signing a one-year deal worth $1 million last April before electing to sit out the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The opt-out decision marked Lee’s second missed season in the last three campaigns after a torn left ACL, MCL and PCL sidelined the 6-foot, 196-pounder for the entirety of the 2018 season — just five months after inking a four-year, $34 million extension from the team.

The 29-year-old wideout originally entered the league as a 2014 second-round pick (No. 39 overall) of the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he spent the first five years of his career compiling 174 catches, 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns in 59 games (30 starts).

In addition to chipping in 100 yards on 16 carries, Lee was also utilized in the return game earlier in his career, handling 18 kick returns for 545 yards (30.3-yard average) and a 100-yard touchdown in 2016.

Garoppolo’s Former ‘Go-To’ WR Signs With Bengals

Trent Taylor 49ers Bengals

GettyFormer 49ers slot receiver Trent Taylor

The addition of Lee should help offset the departure of a fan-favorite wideout on Monday.

As first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, former 49ers wide receiver and punt returner Trent Taylor has found a new home with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Taylor, 27, was similarly a participant during Bengals rookie minicamp after hitting the free agent market in March following four years with San Francisco. Drafted by the team in the fifth round in 2017, Taylor has racked up 79 receptions, 731 yards and three touchdowns in his career. The 5-foot-8 slot receiver burst onto the scene as a rookie with 430 yards and a pair of scores on 43 catches, establishing himself as Garoppolo’s go-to target during the final five weeks of the 2017 campaign. He has also averaged 9.6 yards per punt return on 49 career attempts, and will likely continue to compete for reps at that spot with the Bengals.

Injuries have also taken a toll on Taylor’s once-promising career, including a 2018 back surgery and 2019 Jones fracture surgery that required an additional operation to clear up complications stemming from the initial procedure. After missing the entire 2019 season, the Louisiana Tech product managed only 10 catches for 86 yards in 12 games last season.

Should Taylor make Cincinnati’s roster following training camp, he may very well get the opportunity to suit up against his former club as the 49ers and Bengals are scheduled to face off in Week 14 this season.

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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on 49ers Facebook community for the latest out of the Bay Area!

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