The 49ers took a big step toward rebuilding their rickety wide-receiving corps by agreeing to terms with free agents Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. They can sign their contracts at 1 p.m. Thursday, the official start of the new league year.
The pair would seem to form a thunder-and-lightning duo, with the physical Garcon in the role of possession receiver and Goodwin, a former track star, the team’s down-field threat. The 49ers already have locked up last year’s best pass catcher, Jeremy Kerley, to a three-year deal. Kerley is the leading candidate to be the team’s slot receiver.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen wrote that the deal with Garcon, 30, was expected to pay him $16 million in the first year of the contract. The 49ers have nearly $100 million in salary-cap space and can front-load their contracts now in order to have flexibility in the future.
Receiver is a major need for the 49ers, especially after they parted ways earlier this week with Torrey Smith, one of the few experienced pass catchers on their roster.
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Garcon’s departure in Washington was expected. The coaches there wanted him to be more versatile. He preferred to remain at the X, or split-end, spot in the offense, and according to reports out of Washington, he requested a trade early last year. He also seemed to poke fun at the perceived dysfunction in Washington on his Twitter account.
Garcon is tough, makes catches in traffic and has been described as being similar to former 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who led San Francisco in receiving during the three seasons he was there. Per Pro Football Focus, Garcon dropped only one of the 80 catchable passes that went his way in 2016.
Goodwin, meanwhile, was talented enough to represent the United States in the long jump during the 2012 Olympics -- he placed 10th -- and the following year ran a blazing 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. (He also had an 11-foot broad jump).
Goodwin, 26, was a third-round pick of the Bills later that year and posted modest statistics in his first, injury-marked years in the league. This past season, he posted the best receiving numbers of his career -- 29 catches for 431 yards and three touchdowns. Goodwin also served as Buffalo’s kick returner his first three years in the league.