After purging their already talent-deficient roster to free up salary cap room, the 49ers are now ready to spend like an overeager college student with a tax refund check. It appears that the first impulse buy will be 30-year old Pierre Garçon, who is expected to sign a three-year deal worth approximately $23 million.
Garçon is ending a five-year run in Washington that saw him hit the heights of his career production (113/1,346/5 on 181 targets in 2013) while otherwise serving up fairly pedestrian fantasy numbers for much of his D.C. tenure. Of course, it's a stretch that was marked by plenty of quarterback turmoil in our nation's capital -- something that undoubtedly impacted Garçon's productivity.
Initially, it appeared that Garçon would face a similar situation in San Francisco where the Niners were rumored to be chasing Kirk Cousins. That pursuit is likely on hold now that the team has added free agent Brian Hoyer. The journeyman quarterback isn't likely to set the fantasy world ablaze, but he's proven to be a competent signal-caller, who's likely just a seat-filler until the Niners can draft the guy they believe will be a franchise quarterback.
But back to Garçon ... there's also the issue of signing a soon-to-be 31-year-old who's never scored more than six touchdowns and had only two 1,000-yard campaigns to ostensibly be the No. 1 receiver in an offense bereft of playmakers. This isn't to suggest that Garçon is destined to wash out in Santa Clara, but it does bolster the need to think about him rationally when it comes to fantasy draft time.
In reality, we don't know much about how the Niners offense will look next season. The best guess would be to look at some of the concepts Shanahan used in the Falcons offense over the past two seasons. It would mean less of a reliance of operating out of the shotgun -- something the 49ers did a staggering 97.5 percent of the time last season under Chip Kelly. It's hard to imagine this offense being any less inept than last season's attack and this potential retooling under Shanahan could mean the beginning of a return to fantasy relevance for this team.
The general upside comes from knowing that Garçon will walk into a situation where he's playing for a coach who knows how to maximize his skills -- Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator for Garçon's 2013 campaign -- and that he's likely to be the primary target from whichever quarterback ends up as the starter. Look for Garçon to slot as a fantasy low-end WR2/high-end WR3 in 2017 ... at least until the fog clears in San Francisco.