SANTA CLARA Josh Morgan may be gone for the season, but 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he's not gone for good.
On the same day the 49ers put Morgan on injured reserve because of a broken right leg, Harbaugh said the team wants Morgan back next season and beyond and he said he's told the wide receiver as much.
"We'll make that a priority," Harbaugh said.
Morgan had surgery Monday, during which screws were inserted into his right leg. Harbaugh said the injury included ligament damage but that there shouldn't be any long-term issues with Morgan's recovery.
He called the 26-year-old receiver a "tremendously hard worker," and Morgan seems to fit the mold for what Harbaugh wants in a wide receiver: He's disciplined and team-oriented, and at 220 pounds he's an excellent downfield blocker in the running game for a team that aspires to overwhelm opponents with power.
Morgan's contract status also is typical for the 49ers. He, like three of the five remaining receivers on the active roster Ted Ginn, Braylon Edwards and recent signee Brett Swain are in the final year of their deals. Only Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams are signed beyond this season.
The team also has three receivers on its practice squad, Joe Hastings, John Matthews and Kerry Taylor, who was signed Wednesday. Taylor, an undrafted rookie who played at Arizona State, is the nephew of former 49ers wide receiver John Taylor. Kerry Taylor spent time with Green Bay and New England before being picked up by the 49ers.
Ginn and Morgan had been the 49ers starters at wideout throughout training camp and the exhibition season. Ginn will now take Morgan's spot in the lineup.
Like Morgan, Ginn is looking for a long-term deal while also auditioning for the other 31 teams.
"No matter who's in the lineup, we're all getting our fair share of looks," said Ginn, who has four catches for 38 yards on the season. "It's a great opportunity to do a little bit better, a little bit more."
Edwards is nearly recovered from a meniscus tear suffered in Week 2 against Dallas. Edwards and the 49ers expect he'll be ready for the team's Oct. 30 game against Cleveland. Edwards already has been declared "out" for Sunday's game in his hometown of Detroit.
Swain, meanwhile, beat out more prominent veteran free-agent receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Chambers and Brian Finneran for Morgan's spot.
Harbaugh said all did well in Tuesday's workout and that the 49ers considered signing two of them.
Harbaugh said he and his assistants made the session as competitive as possible, even organizing a 40-yard footrace between the contestants. Hastings, who also was given a chance to try out, won the race, but Swain came in second.
Harbaugh said he liked that Swain caught on quickly when it came to the 49ers' offensive system he was in a similar one in Green Bay and he liked that Swain was a contributor on special teams last year for the Packers, a role he'll likely have early on for the 49ers.
But mostly, he liked how Swain "really stood out" when placed in a competitive situation.
"We'd like to fill Josh's shoes, and they're big shoes to fill, especially where Josh was at and the level Josh Morgan was playing at when he got hurt," Harbaugh said. "We're fired up that Brett's here and we'll get him going as fast as we can."