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The 49ers and JJ: A Match Made In?
April 18 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The 49ers and JJ: A Match Made In? The 49es are continuing talks with receiver JJ Stokes to restructure his contract. Stokes, a former first round draft pick has a salary cap figure of nearly $5 million this season - though only about $3.75 million of that is his base salary. Apparently, both the team and Stokes want to work things out, and keep Stokes a 49er. "We're going to work real hard between now and the draft, and after the draft, to get J.J. Stokes back in the locker room," said Donahue.

The two sides are still quite a distant apart with their negotiations. "We have a distance to go before we reach a number that everyone can agree with." Donahue Said. He also stated that Stokes contract will have no impact on whether the team drafts a receiver. It is reasonable to believe that the 49ers would like someone to really push Stokes and get him to compete at the level he was at, towards the end of last season.

Drafting a receiver could also provide the 49ers with quality insurance in the event that Terrell Owens gets injured playing basketball in the USBL. Incidentally, if Owens were to get injured in the league, the 49ers would be able to differ his salary by placing him on the non-football injury list. This years draft is quite deep in receivers (as will be next year's too), so the possibility of a receiver being the best available talent when the 49ers pick is quite high.

The team also expressed that its interest in receiver Willie Jackson, who had a tremendous year with the Saints last season, is secondary to Stokes. "We have an interest in Willie if we're unable to get things worked out with J.J. Stokes," Donahue said. "We're not trying to play games. We've made it publicly clear we'd prefer to have (Stokes) back. Willie knows that." For some, this comes as bad news. The idea of having Stokes, Owens and Jackson on the team together was something many fans were looking for. It now appears that the 49ers will only seek Jackson if their negotiations with Stokes fail. If the negotiations do fail, Donahue did say "[the team has] a couple of other plans that we'll execute that will allow us not to have to rely on a draft pick to be a wide receiver." These plans likely include Jackson.

It is quite evident the team would like to return Stokes to its lineup. It also seems that they want to enter the draft with as much of an open mind as possible. They are determined not to force themselves to narrow in on one position. It is a formula that should bring in some very solid prospects.

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