Report: 49ers, Westbrook have had preliminary contract talks


The 49ers didn't address the slot receiver position in the 2021 NFL Draft, but they could have their eye on an established player for the role.

Unrestricted free agent wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, recently had "preliminary communication" with the 49ers, NFL Insider Josina Anderson reported Monday.

Westbrook was placed on Injured Reserve by the Jacksonville Jaguars after sustaining the ACL injury in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Chargers last season.

According to Anderson, Westbrook should be cleared for football activities by the eight-month mark of his rehab, which would be the end of June.

Westbrook was a fourth-round pick of the Jaguars in 2017 and was productive over his first three seasons in the NFL. His best season came in 2018 when he caught 66 passes for 717 yards and five touchdowns. He followed it up in 2019 by catching another 66 passes for 660 yards and three touchdowns.

Westbrook, if fully healthy, could fill the vacancy the 49ers have at slot receiver.

The 49ers currently have 12 wide receivers on their roster: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Mohamed Sanu, Richie James, Travis Benjamin, Jalen Hurd, River Cracraft, Jauan Jennings, Trent Sherfield, Kevin White, undrafted free agent Austin Watkins Jr. and the recently signed Bennie Fowler.

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“If we feel there’s a slot receiver or outside receiver who can make our team or beat the guys out in front of them, we would never hesitate as long as it makes sense financially,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 draft. “But I also think we can win with the receivers we have.

“We got a number of NFL receivers, and what I mean is, guys who are NFL players. We got more than six of those.”

It's unclear how recently Westbrook and the 49ers spoke, but if the two sides are able to work out a contract agreement and he makes the regular season roster, it could be a stealthy move by general manager John Lynch and Shanahan.

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