San Francisco 49ers

49ers' free-agent WR options become more clear

The upcoming draft appears to be short on high-end receivers. Free agency, however, promises to have plenty.

Neither the Los Angles Rams nor the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to place the franchise tag on receivers Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson on Tuesday, meaning both likely will be free to sign with another squad when free agency begins March 14.

They join a long list of potential 49ers targets at the position, one that includes big receivers like Buffalo's Jordan Matthews and Indianapolis' Donte Moncrief, speedy ones like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Arizona's John Brown or ones that are familiar to Kyle Shanahan like Taylor Gabriel, who played under Shanahan in both Cleveland and Atlanta.

Cornerback and receiver promise to be among the deepest positions in free agency. Though cornerback is the team's biggest need -- 2017 rookie Ahkello Witherspoon is the only outside cornerback with true NFL experience who is signed for 2018 -- receiver is enticing as well.

The 49ers struggled in the red zone even after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took over as quarterback and Shanahan acknowledged the team had few big-bodied options at the position. Their top three players at the position -- Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor -- are 6-0 or shorter.

Robinson and Watkins fit the desired profile, especially Robinson, who stands 6-3 and who caught 14 touchdowns in 2015. Robinson, however, tore his ACL in last year's season opener and likely will have to sit out the upcoming offseason.

Watkins, meanwhile, was a first-round pick by the Bills in 2014 but was traded to the Rams before the 2017 season. He played in 15 games but finished with only 593 receiving yards, which ranked fifth on the team. His best game came in Week 3 against the 49ers -- six catches, 106 yards and two touchdowns.

In other free-agency news, the Steelers on Tuesday placed the franchise tag on running back Le'Veon Bell. That makes San Francisco's Carlos Hyde the top runner poised to hit the free agent market as an unrestricted free agent. The 49ers have stayed in contact with Hyde's agents and want him back at the right price.

The Bears, meanwhile, used the transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller, a potential 49ers target. That designation comes with a one year $12.97 guarantee, and it gives the Bears the right to match any offer Fuller gets on the open market. Unlike the franchise tag, if he signs with another team, Chicago gets no draft-pick compensation.

Some potential free-agent receivers:

Sammy Watkins, Rams

Allen Robinson, Jaguars

Paul Richardson, Seahawks

John Brown, Cardinals

Taylor Gabriel, Falcons

Jordan Matthews, Bills

Marquise Lee, Jaguars

Donte Moncrief, Colts

Terrelle Pryor, Redskins

Kendall Wright, Bears

Mike Wallace, Ravens

Danny Amendola, Patriots

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