- Kyle Shanahan quickly strengthened the 49ers' wide receiver corps by adding Garcon, but who's going to be throwing the ball to those receivers? That's still to be determined.
Last week at the combine, new 49ers GM John Lynch said that coach Kyle Shanahan “has a very focused and specific profile for what he wants at each position. And I think it’s as strong as any at the receiver position.”
Lynch appears to have landed one of the targets Shanahan had in mind, and it’s a player very familiar with what Shanahan can do. That receiver: Pierre Garçon, who led the league in receptions (113) in 2013, which was Shanahan’s final season as the Washington offensive coordinator. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the 49ers and Garçon are close to finalizing a deal worth $16 million in the first year.
Garçon has not come close to matching his Shanahan-led production of that 2013 season, but he did top 1,000 yards a year ago. The 30-year-old former Colt and Redskin has averaged 12.5 yards per catch for his career, with 88 touchdowns.
He would constitute a massive upgrade to the 49ers’ receiving corps, which was the league’s worst headed into free agency. Lynch’s decision to release veteran Torrey Smith left the recently re-signed (and under-appreciated) Jeremy Kerley and speedy ex-Bills wideout Marquise Goodwin atop a depth chart that includes other such unproven options as Aaron Burbridge, Bruce Ellington and Chris Harper.
Of course, with or without Garçon, the WR group is still in better shape—for the time being—than San Francisco’s quarterback situation. The 49ers did not have a quarterback on their roster before they landed Brian Hoyer on a two-year deal, and that move won’t stop them from adding more QBs this spring.
The terms mentioned in Mortensen’s initial report, if true, would make him the second highest-paid receiver in football, behind only Antonio Brown ($17 million per year). That’s a massive price tag for a receiver with a single-season career high of six TDs, and with just two of nine seasons above the 1,000-yard mark. For the 49ers, though, this may be the new reality for a bit: using their abundant cap space to convince free agents to join a massive rebuild by overpaying.
As the cap continues to climb and the top-level WRs keep seeing salary increases, the Garçon money may not be an outlier. He’s about in range for where No. 1 receiver contracts will be within the next year or two.
He is definitely going to be the 49ers’ No. 1 wide receiver, too, barring another huge move from Lynch. It depends on what Shanahan wants, and it sure seems that he wanted Garçon.