49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 5, 2012
Who's left? The incredible shrinking WR crop


That deep pool of free-agent wide receivers? It's evaporating like a 2012 California reservoir. The latest big name to come off the list is Buffalo's Stevie Johnson, who received a five-year deal reportedly for $36.25 million to stay with the Bills. Others, such as *Dwayne Bowe, could be franchised today, the final day to apply that tag.

With that in mind, here's a revised list of the potential unrestricted free agents beginning March 13. (I included one restricted free agent, Mike Wallace). I've broken down the list into several tiers and included the players' ages, which is one of the top three criteria when considering a free agent. Who did I leave off? Please share your (civil) thoughts.

Proven commodities
* Jackson, Vincent - San Diego. Age: 29. He's a big, downfield receiver - just what the 49ers need. But he's older than most FAs on this list and has some character issues.
* Bowe, Dwayne - KC. Age: 27. A legitimate No. 1 receiver. He could be franchised by the Chiefs later today. Update: The Chiefs indeed franchised Bowe.
* Wallace, Mike - Pittsburgh. Age: 25. Restricted free-agent; will receive a first-round tender March 13. Is he worth the 30th pick and a big, free-agent contract?
* Colston, Marques - NO. Age: 28 With Drew Brees franchised, Colston promises to hit the open market. He's been consistently productive in New Orleans but has a long injury history.
* Johnson, Stevie - Buffalo. Age: 25. San Francisco native signed a five-year, $36.25 million deal to stay in Buffalo.
* Jackson, DeSean - Philadelphia. Age: 25. The former Cal star was franchised by the Eagles last week.
* Welker, Wes - NE. Age: 30. It's hard to see him leaving New England and he's likely to be franchised by the Patriots. Update: The Patriots indeed franchised Welker.

Up and coming
* Garcon, Pierre - Indianapolis. Age: 25. Young and was productive in a Peyton Manning-less Colts offense in 2011. He could be franchised today. If he's not, he'll be a hot commodity. Update: Garcon was not tagged.
* Meachem, Robert - NO. Age: 27. The former first rounder has size and speed but was inconsistent in Saints' prolific offense. He was not as good as Colston.
* Robinson, Laurent - Dallas. Age: 26. He may not be quite as valuable as the two players above. But he's young, he's fast and he led the Cowboys last year with 11 touchdowns.
* Manningham, Mario - NYG. Age: 25. He was very productive in the Giants offense, but you have to wonder if he is any better than, at best, a No. 2 option.

Next tier down
* Morgan, Joshua - SF. Age: 26. Young with an excellent character, work ethic. The 49ers want him back; he wants to test the market.
* Burress, Plaxico - Jets. Age: 34. The 49ers pursued him last year. At the very least, he'd offer an excellent red-zone target. Burress did not get great separation last year, although Jets passing game also was lacking.
* Lloyd, Brandon - Rams. Age: 30. He's become a savvy and smart route runner. But his style doesn't seem to fit the 49ers'.
* Ginn, Ted - SF. Age: 26. He has more value on special teams than he does on offense. He could get more interest than 49ers fans suspect he might. He's still very fast and teams value speed.

Intriguing, lower-cost additions
* Royal, Eddie - Denver. Age: 25. Small but tough receiver would be interesting as a slot receiver, returner.
* Avery, Donnie - Tennessee. Age: 27. The first WR taken in 2008 is very fast but suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2010. The 49ers checked him out last season.
* Doucet, Early - Arizona. Age: 26 Good toughness and experience, but he's probably nothing more than a very good No. 3 receiver.
* Schilens, Chaz - Oakland. Age: 26. Flashes of productivity have been overshadowed by injuries. At 6-4, he'd be a nice red-zone target.
* Spurlock, Micheal - TB. Age: 29. Smart, tough. Could be a good addition on special teams and could be obtained for a song.

Douglas, Harry - Atlanta
Weems, Eric - Atlanta
Parrish, Roscoe - Buffalo
Martin, Ruvell - Buffalo
Hagan, Derek - Buffalo
Naanee, Legedu - Carolina
Williams, Roy - Chicago
Simpson, Jerome - Cincinnati.
Caldwell, Andre - Cincinnati
Davis, Rashied - Detroit
Stovall, Maurice - Detroit
Johnson, Bryant - Houston
Wayne, Reggie - Indianapolis
Gonzalez, Anthony - Indianapolis
Urban, Jerheme - KC
Aromashodu, Devin - Minnesota
Camarillo, Greg - Minnesota
Branch, Deion - NE
Slater, Matthew - NE
Roby, Courtney - NO
Thomas, Devin - NYG
Clayton, Michael - NYG
Houshmandzadeh, T.J. - Oakland
Smith, Steve - Philadelphia
Cotchery, Jerricho - Pittsburgh
Ward, Hines - Pittsburgh
Crayton, Patrick - San Diego
Clayton, Mark - Rams
Anderson, David - Washington
Stallworth, Donte - Washington
Edwards, Braylon
Moss, Randy
Owens, Terrell

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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