Veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon has joined the San Francisco 49ers, the first of a flurry of signings made by the team at the start of free agency. The team also brought in WR Marquise Goodwin, QB Brian Hoyer, LB Malcolm Smith, and TE Logan Paulsen to bolster the offense. He’ll move on after five seasons with Washington, and his departure was expected.
The writing was on the wall, when Garcon the free agent posted a picture of himself on Instagram with the caption “#YallHiring?”.
Well, the 49ers certainly were. Equipped with nearly $99 million in cap space — second most in the league in 2017 — new head coach Kyle Shanahan spent hard to bring in a reliable veteran wideout to bolster a flagging offense. San Francisco ranked dead last in the league in passing as Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert combined for a paltry 181.9 yards per game.
The team was forced to turn to Jets castoff Jeremy Kerley as its top receiving option in 2016.
Garcon can fix that. The dependable veteran has gained at least 750 yards through the air in each of his last four seasons and played in all 64 games over that span. He’ll immediately boost a receiver corps that jettisoned deep threat Torrey Smith earlier this offseason.
Garcon will join Kerley, who the 49ers extended due to his general reliability, and Goodwin, another free agent signing at the position. Goodwin will join the team to fill the same role that Smith filled — that of a deep threat.
With Kaepernick opting out of his contract and Gabbert being extremely underwhelming a season ago, the 49ers also opted to sign veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer. They’re paying Hoyer high-end backup money, but right now smart money is on him being the starter and throwing passes to Garcon, Goodwin and Kerley to start the 2017 season.
Garcon finished up a 5-year, $42.5 million deal with Washington that saw some of the best football of his career. In that time, he had his first and second 1,000-plus yard seasons and found the endzone 21 times. The receiver hasn’t missed a game since 2012 and claimed 113 receptions on 184 targets the season that followed.
Despite being one of the team’s more durable wideouts, Washington was facing a free agency nightmare with quarterback Kirk Cousins looking for a big payday and position-mate DeSean Jackson also hitting the market. Garcon had made it known he wanted to stay in D.C., but will now be making his way to the third city of his career.
The 30-year-old was drafted out of Mount Union by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2008 draft. He spent his first four seasons with the team, catching passes from the almighty Peyton Manning and gradually increasing his snap counts and targets throughout those years. His time with the Colts culminated in 188 receptions for 2,519 yards and 16 touchdowns.