<
>

Marquise Goodwin's extension should not prevent 49ers from pursuing free-agent WRs

play
Bears, Ravens, 49ers could be landing spots for Robinson (0:51)

Field Yates looks at the teams in need of a receiver after Jacksonville opted not to use the franchise tag on Allen Robinson. (0:51)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers continued their trend of taking care of in-house business before free agency begins next week when they signed receiver Marquise Goodwin to a three-year contract extension on Thursday.

According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Goodwin signed a three-year extension worth $20.3 million with $10 million guaranteed. The deal means Goodwin could be a Niner through the 2021 season and puts a bow on a roller-coaster year for him.

The year saw Goodwin sign with the 49ers after a disappointing tenure in Buffalo, emerge as the star of training camp, struggle with drops early in the season, go through the loss of his unborn son and the death of his biological father, suffer two concussions and still come out on the other end with career highs in catches (56) and receiving yards (962).

Goodwin's professional approach, speed, productivity and fit in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense ultimately left the Niners pursuing a contract extension with him even though he had a year left on his previous deal.

"I knew that Kyle would put me in a position to be successful, and he and [general manager] John [Lynch] have done an outstanding job of allowing guys to flourish. And I see what Kyle has done with many other receivers in his system," Goodwin said. "I knew that coming here would be my best fit, and obviously it’s proven well."

Goodwin is the fifth player the 49ers have re-signed before the free-agent negotiating window opens Monday, joining quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, center Daniel Kilgore, tackle Garry Gilliam and defensive end Cassius Marsh.

Although the numbers on Goodwin's contract extension, and how much of that money is being put into this year's salary cap, isn't yet available, it's safe to assume that it didn't take a big enough bite out of the cap that the Niners can't pursue anyone they want in free agency. They still should have more than $50 million in usable cap space (not counting money set aside for the draft class) to add help at positions of need.

By now, the Niners' primary needs -- cornerback, offensive line, edge rusher -- are well known. However, the market doesn't offer much in the way of edge rushers, at least not the type who will command a big contract and solve the team's problems there. There will be some options at cornerback, and the group of offensive linemen has some intriguing possibilities, but there are none that the Niners seem likely to break the bank to sign.

Which brings us to wide receiver, where Shanahan and Lynch have made it abundantly clear they won't add just for the sake of adding. However, this year's free-agent class offers at least a couple of options for bigger, more physical receivers who could give the Niners receiving corps what it currently lacks. Jacksonville's Allen Robinson and, to a lesser extent, the Rams' Sammy Watkins would seem to fit the profile of what the Niners could use at the position.

While receiver might not be one of the team's top needs, the case can be made that it's one worth addressing now, especially when looking beyond the scope of this season. First and foremost, players such as Robinson and Watkins, both of whom have yet to turn 25, rarely come available at this point in their careers. Of course, there are reasons that they are likely to be available.

In Robinson's case, it's because he's coming off a season-ending ACL injury, which prevented him from having the type of big season that would have set him up to cash in. For Watkins, it's a combination of previous injury issues and a 2017 season in which he didn't produce as much as expected after the Rams traded for him in the preseason.

Still, both have upside that figures to make them attractive options, not only for the 49ers but for any receiver-needy team.

The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Robinson could be just the cure for the team's red-zone woes. Of his 22 career touchdown catches, Robinson has scored 18 of them from inside the red zone. And while the 6-1, 211-pound Watkins has scored just 12 of his 25 touchdowns from in the red zone, seven of the eight he scored in 2017 came on plays inside the opponent's 20. He also comes from a Rams system similar to the Niners', which would make for an easier adjustment.

Meanwhile, the 49ers got better-than-expected production from the likes of Goodwin and Trent Taylor last season and expect to get Pierre Garcon back from a season-ending neck injury. Keeping that group intact for 2018 makes sense, but adding someone like Robinson or Watkins would be an investment as much for 2019 and beyond as it would be for this season.

Garcon will turn 32 in August, and the Niners could theoretically get out of his deal after the season with minimal cap hit if he is unable to return to form. Goodwin's contract details aren't available yet, but it's likely there isn't much (if anything) guaranteed beyond the next two seasons, and he has a history of concussion issues. Others, such as Kendrick Bourne, have showed promise but have a lot to prove to be considered starting-caliber.

So while the Niners have some solid receiving options on paper right now, there are still big-picture questions about the position. And while the Niners were re-signing Goodwin on Thursday, the division-rival Rams were busy adding cornerback Aqib Talib to a revamped secondary that includes Marcus Peters.

None of that is to say the 49ers should offer Robinson or Watkins some crazy long-term deal that resets the market for receivers. Perhaps Robinson or Watkins will sign a one-year deal in hopes of cashing in bigger next year, like Alshon Jeffery did with Philadelphia in 2017. If not, the Niners can still afford a sizable deal for Robinson or Watkins.

Regardless, the 49ers should be seriously involved. Even after re-signing Goodwin.