The free-agency period has been good one way or another for every NFL team. Hence, it’s time to take a look at the positives in our newest series for End Zone Score. Which newcomer to the club was the franchise’s best offseason move and why? Things started with the 2016 last-place teams in the eight divisions. We have already previewed the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers. And that means the San Francisco 49ers are now in the spotlight.
You could spend a lot of time going through the list of offseason acquisitions by new general manager John Lynch and this franchise the last month or so. There’s a pair of former Chicago Bears quarterbacks in Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. The Niners added Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith (late of the Oakland Raiders) to the defense, a unit that was the worst in the league this past season. Running back Tim Hightower adds a little more power to the backfield. There’s a new center in Jeremy Zuttah while veteran placekicker Robbie Gould takes over for Phil Dawson – now a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
But the choice here is veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon, late of the Washington Redskins. He is one of three free agents (along with Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson) to join new head coach Kyle Shanahan in the Bay Area. Both Garcon and Robinson have experience in the sideline leader’s offensive system.
The one-time Indianapolis Colts performer has nine NFL seasons under his belt. Garcon has totaled 564 career receptions, good for 7,068 yards and 37 scores. In 2013 with the Redskins, he led the league with 113 catches. And in five years in Washington, he racked up 376 grabs – 21 for touchdowns – and twice amassed at least 1,000 receiving yards.
In 2016, the San Francisco 49ers finished next-to-last in total offense. The passing attack ranked 32nd in the league. That figures to change for a lot of reasons this fall and Garcon will be a big factor in that improvement.