Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Chris Culliver and Dan Skuta have found new teams during the first week of NFL free agency. Perrish Cox has taken three visits, and the 49ers are not making a strong effort to keep him, according to a source.
Meanwhile, there has not been much going on with wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
Finally, a couple team names has surfaced in connection with Crabtree. Washington has expressed interest in Crabtree but San Diego is a stronger possibility, reports John Keim, who covers Washington for ESPN. Washington general manager Scot McCloughan, while in the same position with the 49ers in 2009, drafted Crabtree with the No. 10 overall pick.
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson, whom the 49ers released this week, visited the Chargers on Friday. Johnson and Crabtree could be in competition for the same job. The 49ers and Johnson are keeping the door open for Johnson’s return at a price significantly lower than the $6.025 million salary that forced the 49ers to cut him.
The 49ers have maintained that the organization would like to have Crabtree back at the right price. But sources close to Crabtree do not envision him returning to the 49ers.
After all, Crabtree grew frustrated last season in his lack of involvement in the 49ers’ offense. He caught 68 passes for just 698 yards, with a career-low 10.3 average, and four touchdowns. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s preferred target was veteran Anquan Boldin, who caught 83 passes for 1,062 yards and five touchdowns.
With Boldin returning and the addition of speedster Torrey Smith, Crabtree would be the No. 3 receiver on a team that has made no secret of its intention to lean on his running game.
Crabtree is not expected to get anywhere near the five-year, $40 million deal the 49ers carved out for Smith. If he is looking for a big contract, he might be best-served to sign a one-year deal, go to a team that envisions putting up big passing numbers and try free agency again next year.
Crabtree reached 1,000 yards receiving just once in his six seasons with the 49ers after coming into the league as a first-round pick. Crabtree did not sign his first contract until October of his rookie season. He missed five games as a result of the negotiating stalemate. After his breakout 2012 season that included 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns, Crabtree was derailed in 2013 when he sustained a torn Achilles in an offseason workout.