The San Francisco 49ers this offseason will be looking everywhere for help at wide receiver.
The list of possible free agents is long and enticing. The draft will supply great talent, though the 49ers will have to wait to pluck it, having the 30th pick in every round. And even familiar, high-mileage former stars such as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are out there, waiting for a team to call.
But help might also be available from within if Joshua Morgan shows he’s healthy again.
The fourth-year receiver out of Virginia Tech, whose season was cut short by a broken leg in early October, was in the starting lineup before his injury.
Now a free agent, the 49ers will need to evaluate Morgan, their needs and options, and determine whether to bring him back or go in another direction.
Back in December, head coach Jim Harbaugh told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d like to re-sign Morgan. And Morgan – who’s been with the franchise since being taken in the sixth round of the 2008 draft – said he wants to remain with the team.
“You want to stay with the people you came in with,” Morgan, 26, told Branch. “What better place to be than stay here?”
Before his injury, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder had 15 catches for 220 yards and one touchdown, with an average of 14.7 yards per catch.
His production was down from previous years, especially 2009 and 2010. In 2009 he had his best season, catching 52 balls for three TDs. A season later, he made 44 catches for two TDs. His career yards-per-catch average is 13.5.
Last week, it was reported Morgan is sprinting again after surgery and rehabilitation work following the broken leg suffered in a victory over the Tampa Bay Bucs.
“I’m back,” Morgan told reporters last week as he was leaving 49ers team headquarters in Santa Clara following a workout. “I’m running again and have been for about two weeks. Yes, sprinting.”
In his four seasons in San Francisco, Morgan has shown good speed to help stretch the field. He’s also made plays and shown toughness. So, he could be a low-cost re-signing that could pay bigger dividends. A second year under Harbaugh’s system and familiarity with quarterback Alex Smith could result in a boost for the wide receiving corps, which was woefully thin by the end of the season after Morgan's injury and the release of Braylon Edwards. Morgan’s salary for 2011 was just $555,000.
Morgan told the Associated Press last week that he’ll be ready to re-sign with the 49ers as soon as the team lets him know it’s interested.
“When they tell me, I’ll be there,” Morgan told the AP.