Ted Ginn said today what a lot of 49ers fans suspect: If he had been on the field during the NFC Championship game, it would have been the 49ers, not the Giants, heading to Indianapolis the following week. Ginn missed the game after suffering a knee injury against the Saints the week prior.
"We'd have been in the Super Bowl," Ginn told the Detroit Free Press. "I don't know if we'd have won, but we would have fought to win."
Ginn was in Detroit on a free-agent visit. He made it clear to reporter Dave Birkett that his goal is to see plenty of action as a receiver and not be limited to kick and punt returns. Ginn accepted a $1.2 million pay cut last year in order to void the final year of his contract with the 49ers and become a free agent.
The irony is that he had opportunities to be a receiver last season with the 49ers. Injuries to Michael Crabtree (early), Josh Morgan (middle) and Braylon Edward's release (late) meant that Ginn was the de facto No. 2 receiver for much of the season. He played 351 offensive snaps in 2011, 34.2 percent of the total snaps.
Last year Ginn caught 19 passes and the year before he caught 12. In three seasons in Miami he averaged 43 catches a season.
He likely does not envision as much offensive playing time in San Francisco in the future. The team already signed Randy Moss, they're currently looking at an array of other free agents, including Mario Manningham, who is visiting today, and they probably will add a draft pick or two as well at the position.
Ginn's value to the 49ers is as a return man, which he noted in the quote above. If he leaves the 49ers, they will have no problem finding someone to handle kick returns. Punt returns - as the NFC Championship game showed - are far more critical. One of the free-agents the team already signed, Perrish Cox, has experience doing that in college but only has three returns in the NFL.
The team also is looking at receiver Eddie Royal, who has a much bigger resume when it comes to punt returns.
Speaking of special teams, the 49ers agreed to a one-year deal with Raiders free-agent running back Rock Cartwright. At age 32, the 49ers certainly aren't looking at Cartwright as an every-down runner. But the 5-8, 215-pounder could be a complement to Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter and he is very good as a coverage player on special teams.
Cartwright had 12 tackles last year for the Raiders and 17 in 2010. He also has handled a few kick returns in both Oakland and his previous stop, Washington, where he was the primary kick-return specialist from 2006-09.
-- Matt Barrows