49ers to Sign J.J. Nelson and Tavon Austin

Grant Cohn

The 49ers seem to have put the finishing touches on their roster before training camp starts on Saturday.

The 49ers intend to sign two wide receivers once they pass physicals -- Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson -- per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Austin, 30, was the eighth pick of the 2013 draft after he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash to the NFL Scouting Combine. He has spent his career with the Rams and Cowboys, and has started only nine games at wide receiver since 2016. But he still is an electric athlete who can return punts and kickoffs for touchdowns.

Nelson, 28, was the Arizona Cardinals’ fifth-round pick in 2015 after he ran a 4.29 at the Combine. In five seasons in the NFL, he has started just 16 games and caught only 85 passes, but has scored 12 touchdowns, and he averages a whopping 17.4 yards per catch and 10 yards per carry. He’s a dynamic deep threat receiver who also can be a gadget player. Still, he appeared in just two games last season for the Raiders.

Neither Nelson nor Austin is a coveted player in the league -- that’s why both were free agents in mid August. But both are extremely fast -- much faster than the rest of the wide receivers on the 49ers.

I’m guessing one of Nelson or Austin will make the 49ers final roster, because head coach Kyle Shanahan wants a speed receiver. Plus, the 49ers seem to want a new returner to replace Richie James Jr.

The competition between Austin and Nelson will be fun to watch when camp begins.

Register today for free or log in to access this premium article.