With only 58 players under contract, the 49ers will be buyers when the free-agent market opens Thursday. One position they will look at closely: wide receiver.
A player expected to draw their attention is Rams free agent Kenny Britt, sources said. Britt, 28, had the first 1,000-yard receiving season of his career last year despite a weak situation at quarterback in Los Angeles. He was a first-round pick (30th overall) by the Titans in 2009 and has good size at 6-3, 223 pounds.
The Eagles — who are one of several teams in the market for wideouts — also are expected to show interest, ESPN reported.
Meanwhile, various reports have linked the 49ers to Browns wideout Terrelle Pryor and to Bears’ receiver Alshon Jeffery. Cleveland.com writes that the 49ers, Eagles, Browns and Titans will be among the teams in the market for Pryor, 27, who converted from quarterback to receiver in 2015 and who last year surpassed 1,000 receiving yards on a team that, like the Rams, had a shaky situation at quarterback.
The 49ers also are looking at Jeffery, two sources said, but perhaps not at the rate — $14-$15 million per season — the big Bears receiver is hoping to see on the open market. One source felt the 49ers either would bow out before the bidding reached that point or that Chicago would retain Jeffery at a lower rate.
Several other free-agent receivers could tempt the 49ers, especially Washington free agent Pierre Garcon, who had his best season in 2013 when 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was his offensive coordinator.
Only one other team — the Browns — has more salary-cap space than San Francisco’s $90 million cushion. However, the 49ers currently have no quarterbacks signed for the 2017 season, a situation free-agent receivers are closely monitoring.
The 49ers on Saturday agreed to terms on a three-year deal with their leading receiver from 2016, Jeremy Kerley. He is expected to compete at the slot position.
Shanahan, however, made it clear that he wanted to bolster the position, which was arguable the league’s worst last year.
“We’re going to add as many as we can to help our roster and we also want to add some competition, because we feel the more competition we have in OTAs, the more competition you have in training camp,” he said at the scouting combine. ” If you end up cutting some people at the end of training camp who you think can play in the NFL, then that shows that your organization’s going the right direction. That’s really our goal.”