Signing A WR Now Would Just Be A Reach
July 16 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Since Willie Jackson signed with the Atlanta Falcons instead of the 49ers, Iíve received countless emails asking me why the 49ers donít go after Antonio Freeman or Darnay Scott. While I canít speak for the 49ers, mainly because Iím not a 49ersí executive, I can say, that from my perspective, such a signing, would not be in the teamís best interests.
The reason the 49ers were interested in Willie Jackson is that despite only having one big season (the 2001 season) Jackson would have brought serious competition to the secondary receiving position. It is my belief, that he is the only receiver in free agency this off-season that would have done that for the 49ers. He is also the only receiver in free agency who would have added to the overall chemistry of the team.
While Iím not bothered that he did not sign with the 49ers, mainly because his only productive season came in a contract year, that he was asking for bigger numbers than I and the 49ers believe he deserved, and because of an extremely receiver rich draft next season; I can say that he would have been a nice addition to the 49ers under the right conditions. That he didnít sign with the 49ers is disappointing, but not bothersome.
The current receiving market really only includes two players worth a look. Former Packer Antonio Freeman and former Bengal Darnay Scott. I believe neither of these two receivers is worth the 49ers pursuit, and I believe neither of these two receivers would have been a better signing than Willie Jackson.
Freeman is an aging receiver, who did well with the Packers. There is no doubt in my mind that Freeman can be productive in a primary role for one more season. But asking Freeman to accept less money, and to compete for a secondary roleÖ now thatís simply a disaster. With big plays, comes a big ego, and Freemanís ego is now bigger than the plays he makes. Heís on the down turn of his career, the point at which the 49ers are famous for letting veterans go, and his ego would just clash with that of star receiver Terrell Owens. The amount of money the 49ers would have to pay Freeman is again not worth it, in terms of what he would add to the team given the 49ers current personnel.
Scott is a different type of receiver than Freeman. Heís known for his speed, but certainly isnít as productive in down field blocking; and because he would have to learn an entire offense over a few months, he certainly wouldnít beat JJ Stokes for the secondary role. Scott likely wouldnít add to the chemistry of the team, but likely wouldnít take away from it in the same way Freeman would. Still heíd be looking for a rather sizeable pay check, and thatís something the 49ers should avoid at all costs in adding another receiver to their roster. Scottís speed is enticing, but his game as a whole likely couldnít compete with that of JJ Stokes.
The other reason the 49ers should avoid signing a receiver at this point is next years draft. As mentioned above, the 2003 draft is full of receiver, and great ones at that. Rather than paying money for a receiver on the down turn of their career, the 49ers should find one in next years draft and use the extra cap space this year for other areas such as depth along the offensive line, extending contracts of some of the teamís up and coming players, or save some room in the event of filling a roster space due to injury.
There will be plenty of people who disagree with this article. Who see Freeman or Scott as players far better than Stokes, and thatís fine. But from my eyes, paying for Freeman or Scott at this point, really wouldnít do the team much good (unless of course Owens or Stokes gets injured - in which case one year contracts should still be the most offered to these guys because of next seasonís draft). I just donít see either of these guys as someone who would really push JJ Stokes to be a better receiver, or beat him out. Those who doubt Stokes will likely have to wait at least one more season for the 49ers to bring in anyone to challenge for his position on the roster.