San Francisco 49ers: Jerome Simpson

Let’s look deeper into the San Francisco 49ers’ interest in free-agent receivers Julian Edelman of New England and Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants.

Odds of landing them: There is competition. The Patriots want Edelman back and Cleveland has been connected to him as well. Nicks is visiting Indianapolis on Friday. Carolina is also interested. The 49ers don’t have a ton of salary-cap room, so they have to get creative in a deal with either player.

Nicks
Edelman
Who else is out there if Edelman and Nicks don’t end up with 49ers: The top available receivers include Steve Smith, James Jones, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerome Simpson.

Who is the best fit? Probably Nicks because he is an outside receiver. Landing him on a short-term deal to see if he can become a top-notch player again could be smart. Don’t get me wrong; Edelman is good as well. You don’t catch 105 balls in a season if you’re not talented. But Anquan Boldin is essentially a slot guy as well. Still, I’m sure the 49ers could find ways to make it work.

How Crabtree, Boldin and the draft figure: Crabtree is a free agent next year and Boldin is 33. So, even if the 49ers sign Edelman or Nicks, I can still see them taking a receiver early in the draft.

Kaepernick factor: I’m sure quarterback Colin Kaepernick is paying attention. This passing offense could be nasty with Boldin, Crabtree, tight end Vernon Davis and Nicks or Edelman. It would open it up. It could also behoove Kaepernick to wait to get his contract done until next year. He could put up big numbers with another top weapon.

Should Seattle worry? Yes. The 49ers must get better on offense to beat Seattle. That was the reason why the 49ers couldn’t overtake Seattle in 2013. A big-time offensive weapon could even the playing field.

Scout's thoughts: “I was a little surprised to be honest, especially after the re-signing of Boldin. Quinton Patton also shows some promise, but this would be a heck of a receiver corps if is Patton is your No. 4. I would think if they were in the market for WR though, that they would be looking for a pure speed guy, which isn't Nicks or Edelman.” -- ESPN analyst Matt Williamson
The San Francisco 49ers likely aren’t going to spend much more money in free agency, but I would not be surprised if they consider adding a veteran receiver to help with their depth.

While the 49ers will surely address the position early in the draft, there has been enough whispers around the league to suggest they are not averse to bringing in a receiver earlier.

Golden Tate told a Seattle radio station, after he signed with Detroit, that the 49ers showed interest. It is doubtful they were willing to pay big dollars, though. Tate reportedly received $31 million over five years from the Lions.

The 49ers also had some interest in Dexter McCluster before he signed with the Titans and there has been some interest in Minnesota’s Jerome Simpson.

There could be some decent receivers available over the next several days. Among the top receivers who could potentially be signed at a reasonable price include Hakeem Nicks, James Jones, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice and Emmanuel Sanders. Then there’s the possibility Steve Smith could soon be free.

Again, the 49ers may not be big free-agent players at a position they will address in the draft, but they have been looking. And if the price is right, there could possibly be a connection.
There is no doubt the San Francisco 49ers' focus in free agency, which begins Tuesday, will be to keep their own players: safety Donte Whitner, cornerback Tarell Brown and kicker Phil Dawson.

But the 49ers will also likely bargain shop for a few pieces. Among the position they may look at is receiver. Last week, we looked at the possibility of the team considering Minnesota receiver Jerome Simpson. Another name to consider may be Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dexter McCluster.

McCluster, who likely will not be too expensive, can help as a returner as well as a receiver. The Chiefs had high hopes for McCluster, who they took in the second round in 2010, but he never made a huge impact for them on offense. He is, however, versatile and can play running back as well.

The 49ers already have their own second-round player who has yet to make an impact. Oregon running back LaMichael James, who was taken in 2012, is a similar player who hasn't been able to make his mark. If would be interesting to see what the team would do with James, who finished the season as the return man, if the team does pursue McCluster.

There certainly could be a scenario where both were kept. I don't think McCluster would be a priority, but I do think he could be somewhere on the team's wish list.
As the San Francisco 49ers prepare for free agency, outside free agents are not necessarily on the team’s priority list.

Simpson
However, if the 49ers look for a free-agent receiver, one name that could make sense is Minnesota’s Jerome Simpson.

He fits what the 49ers are looking for in a receiver. He can stretch the field, a quality high on the 49ers' wish list. Plus, Simpson is known as a strong run-blocker. Since this is a run-first offense, the team demands their receivers to be strong blockers.

Simpson, 28, had 48 catches for 726 yards and one touchdown for the Vikings in 2013. Simpson, who has had some off-field issues, could be a good No. 3 receiving option in the 49ers' scheme.

There have been other veteran receivers, such as Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders, who have been connected to the 49ers as potential fits. However, it is no sure thing the 49ers pursue a receiver in free agency.

 

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