In their quest to improve the wide receiver corps, the 49ers are looking not for just big-name, high-impact performers, but also for veterans who can contribute at the tail end of the depth chart.
The latest addition is Travis Benjamin, 30, an eight-year NFL pro who’s played for the Browns and Chargers. He had just six catches over 12 games in 2019.
Benjamin has signed a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Benjamin, a fourth-round pick out of Miami by Cleveland in 2012, has 208 catches in 101 NFL games with a good average per catch (15.1) and 19 touchdowns.
But the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder wasn’t all that productive the past two seasons for the Chargers, with just 12 catches in 2018 and six last season.
His most productive year came in 2015 with the Browns, when he had 68 catches for 966 yards and five TDs.
He’ll have to battle to make a roster that has Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin and Richie James, plus two young wideouts returning after missing all of 2019, Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd. It’s likely, too, that San Francisco could select a top wide receiver prospect with one of its two first-round picks, including its highest at No. 13.
Benjamin is familiar to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was offensive coordinator of the Browns when Benjamin was on their roster.
Benjamin had a quad injury in 2019 and went on injured reserve in late October. While his numbers have been in decline in recent seasons, Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports noted that Benjamin adds some experience and depth to the roster competition, especially with so many young wideouts on the team.
“Benjamin gives San Francisco a much-needed veteran presence,” he wrote.