The 49ers’ leading receiver from 2016 will get a chance to repeat that feat this season.
The team and Jeremy Kerley on Saturday agreed on a three-year contract, just five days before Kerley was scheduled to become a free agent. According to ESPN, the deal is worth $10.5 million.
“As we evaluated the roster, his production on the field really impressed us and we believe he is a great fit for our scheme,” general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “As we learned more and more about him, it became obvious his teammates have a great deal of respect for Jeremy as well. He is a true pro who is an asset to this team on offense, special teams and in the locker room.”
Kerley, 28, was a late addition to the 49ers roster last season after the team acquired him in an Aug. 29 trade with the Detroit Lions for offensive lineman Brandon Thomas.
The late start, however, didn’t seem to affect Kerley’s rapport with quarterback Blaine Gabbert and later Colin Kaepernick. Working from the slot-receiver position, he finished with 64 receptions for 667 yards, both of which led the 49ers.
Kerley’s yardage total, however, ranked 64th among NFL pass catchers while the 49ers finished last in the league in passing offense.
The 49ers are expected to add several receivers in the offseason. New coach Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday was lukewarm in his praise of the group he inherits.
“No one in particular,” he said when asked who stands out. “I feel we’ve got a bunch of good players we feel we can compete with, and we know we need to add some, too. We’re going to add as many as we can to help our roster.”
That likely will start in free agency.
The 49ers have been linked to the Bears’ Alshon Jeffrey, while Cleveland’s Terrelle Pryor or Washington’s Pierre Garcon — who has a background with Shanahan — also make sense.
The two top receivers in the draft, Clemson’s Mike Williams and Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, did not run at the combine but said they will do so at their pro days. Another receiver, Washington’s John Ross, ran the fastest 40-yard dash ever recorded at the NFL Combine, one clocked at 4.22 seconds.