The 49ers' strict value chart for their own free agents promises to be put to the test this week. According to two sources, the 49ers will make a strong push to re-sign receiver Joshua Morgan, who could be the hottest of the team's own free agents when the market opens Tuesday.
Morgan never has had a prolific season in San Francisco. His best year came in 2010 when he finished with 698 receiving yards and had a 15.9 yards-per-catch average. But around the league and inside the 49ers' headquarters, those numbers are viewed more as an indication of the 49ers' lackluster passing attacks than they are Morgan's ability.
The 49ers like him because he's a steady, powerfully built pass catcher who blocks and is among the hardest workers on the team. Before he got hurt at the end of Week 5 last season, Morgan was the most productive of the team's wideouts, and he logged the most minutes. Those attributes, and the fact that he's only 26 - he turns 27 in June - make him attractive to other teams in the league.
What was once a deep pool of free-agent receivers dried up a bit in recent weeks after franchise tags were placed on some players like Dwayne Bowe and DeSean Jackson while the Bills struck a long-term deal with another young wideout, Stevie Johnson. There are still many players destined to become free agents, but there also is a great demand for them.
The 49ers, of course, have just two wideouts who caught passes last year -- Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams -- signed for 2012. Other teams are in just as bad shape. The Colts, Bears, Jaguars, Redskins and Patriots are expected to add multiple players at the position. Other squads, such as the Texans, Chargers and even the Saints may have to add players.
The Jaguars are intriguing in that they hired ex 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan in that same role. Sullivan was a great admirer of Morgan's when he was with the 49ers. The Redskins, too, could be an attractive option. Morgan was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and played at Virginia Tech.
The 49ers' sober strategy in free agency is to place a value on targets, including their own free agents, and refuse to surpass that mark. That's what occurred last season when they lost two players, center David Baas and linebacker Takeo Spikes, they would have had back if the price were right. Morgan, quarterback Alex Smith and others promise to test that approach this year.
Two other 49ers wideouts also are expected to hit the open market. Ted Ginn never distinguished himself as a receiver in Miami or San Francisco, but he is still one of the fastest players in the league, which will make him attractive to other squads. Furthermore, he had a key role on the 49ers' top-notch special teams units, and his value as a returner only was underscored by the calamities that occurred when he missed the NFC Championship game.
Meanwhile, the 49ers like Brett Swain, the off-the-street free agent they signed after Morgan was hurt last year. However, they will not offer him a restricted free-agent tender and are more interested in bringing him back on a minimum-salary type of deal.
-- Matt Barrows