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49ers have money, opportunity for Jeremy Maclin but what does he want?

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- On the surface, there are plenty of reasons why the San Francisco 49ers should actively pursue newly released wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Let us count the ways.

First and foremost, Maclin would instantly be one of the two best wideouts on the Niners' roster and offer a better complement to Pierre Garcon than anyone else currently on the team. In seven NFL seasons, Maclin has posted more than 850 receiving yards in five of them. And he's exceeded 750 receiving yards in all but one of those years. By way of comparison, Garcon is the only wideout on the 49ers to surpass 750 yards in a season more than once and Jeremy Kerley is the only other one to do it at all.

Adding Maclin to a group that includes Garcon, Kerley, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson and rookie Trent Taylor would instantly take the Niners' receiver corps from questionable to respectable.

And though Maclin has never played for Niners coach Kyle Shanahan, he does have extensive experience in West Coast style offenses from his time with Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Maclin is considered a solid route runner but offers a speed element that would work nicely paired with Garcon.

Further, while the 49ers' rebuild saw them signing free-agent wideouts like Garcon and Goodwin, bringing back Kerley and drafting Taylor, they didn't invest so much in any young wideout that they would be stunting the development of a player by having Maclin come in and play right away.

So from a football standpoint, the idea would absolutely make sense for the 49ers.

Of course, there's always a financial side to these things as well. Once again, the Niners are better positioned than any team in the league to do what it would take to land a player like Maclin.

According to the latest figures from the NFLPA, the 49ers have $71,162,593 in salary-cap space. While they still have to sign their top draft picks, they will still have more cap space than any team in the league and only the Cleveland Browns are even in the same ballpark. With that much space, the 49ers could bring Maclin into the fold with a front-loaded, multiyear contract that wouldn't tie them to him long term and ensure they still have plenty of flexibility entering next offseason. Or they could outbid just about anyone on a healthy, one-year "prove it" deal if Maclin prefers to go that route.

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have said since they were hired in February that they would explore every way possible to improve the roster. They've remained active throughout the entire offseason, working out notable veterans such as safety Jairus Byrd and others. It's hard to imagine they wouldn't at least consider making a run at Maclin.

Despite all of that, there are a couple of potential issues that could stand in the way of the Niners getting involved here.

Yes, Kansas City was up against the salary cap but given Maclin's injury history -- he missed the 2013 season with a torn ACL and various other ailments have limited him to just two seasons in which he's played all 16 games -- it's fair to expect any team signing him to do more than just a simple physical first to make sure everything checks out. He's also coming off a season in which he produced career lows in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Was it just a down year or has the wear and tear of previous years caught up to him? Those are all questions any team showing interest will want answered before making a strong offer.

The other bigger factor here is what, exactly, Maclin might be looking for in his next team. While the idea of playing in Shanahan's offense should be enticing for any receiver, let alone one with Maclin's pedigree, the 29-year old might be at the point where going to a playoff contender is his top priority.

As it stands now, the 49ers don't qualify and there are plenty of receiver-needy teams with better quarterback situations -- Baltimore, Detroit and New Orleans come to mind -- that could strongly factor into the mix. After his release on Friday, Maclin was clearly taken aback by the Chiefs' decision so he might not know yet what would make for his ideal landing spot.

In the end, if Maclin is looking for a place that will provide him the opportunity to be a key component of the offense and another strong payday, the Niners could fit the bill. If winning immediately is what he wants, he'll probably have better options.