The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver group could look a lot different in 2022 than it did during the 2021 season. All-Pro Deebo Samuel requested a trade from the team before the NFL Draft, hoping to land with a new franchise.
The 49ers do not want to trade Samuel as he is an integral part of their offense, but we have seen some big named players moved this offseason as teams couldn’t afford to sign them to a long-term deal or relationships were beyond repair. Samuel reportedly wants to be closer to his family and wants his role adjusted.
Kyle Shanahan unlocked something offensively last season when he began deploying Samuel as a running back. That isn’t something Samuel sounds like he wants to continue.
San Francisco will do everything they can to smooth things out and get on the same page with Samuel again. But, if they do end up having to trade him, that will create a gaping hole in their offense that will need filling right away.
Since the 2022 NFL Draft has already passed, the 49ers won’t be able to draft a rookie to replace him. In the discussions they had with the New York Jets, the No. 10 overall pick was involved, which the Jets used on Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
San Francisco would have to dip into free agency to help compensate for the loss of Samuel this late in the offseason. Luckily for them, there are still some solid options remaining. The perfect fit for them, according to PFF, would be Julio Jones.
Jones has struggled with injuries the last two seasons, putting up career-low numbers with the Tennessee Titans in 2021. He caught only 48 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown across 10 games.
Now 33-years old, Jones is nearing the end of his career, but he can still provide a team like the 49ers with a boost with his veteran savvy. Standing 6’3” he can provide an offense with a legitimate red-zone threat that can still win 50/50 situations downfield.
With Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle also in the mix, Jones wouldn’t be relied upon as the No. 1 go-to receiver. He would be a complementary player whether or not he is being used to help replace Samuel or play a role behind him in the passing game.