49ers: Breaking down the signing of wide receiver Travis Benjamin

The San Francisco 49ers have reportedly signed wide receiver Travis Benjamin to a one-year contract. We dive in and break down this under-the-radar signing.

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t been able to make a ton of free-agent signings this offseason due to their cap restrictions. That means that the ones they have made, need to count. Their most recent addition came in the form of veteran wide receiver Travis Benjamin.

As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the 49ers signed Benjamin to a one-year deal on Tuesday. Benjamin has spent the last four seasons in a part-time role with the Los Angeles Chargers seeing his playing time diminish over time.

The eight-year veteran was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns where he would spend the first four years of his career.

After playing primarily on special teams early in his career, Benjamin broke out in 2015 finishing with a career-high 68 receptions for 966 yards and five touchdowns. He parlayed that success into a four-year, $24 million contract with the Chargers that offseason.

However, he never quite lived up to expectations in Los Angeles.

Benjamin saw his production decline over his four-year tenure with the Chargers recording 677 receiving yards in 2016 before being passed up on the depth chart by the likes of Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, and even Dontrelle Inman.

He still doubled as a punt returner, but his role on the offense had all but faded away by the time 2019 came around. The former Miami standout played in just five games, catching six passes for 30 yards, before ending up on the injured reserve with a quad injury.

That would serve as the unceremonious end to his Chargers career.

But Benjamin should have the chance to revitalize his career in San Francisco. The speedy wideout is a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme given his excellent run-after-the-catch ability.

Benjamin’s experience as a punt returner indicates that he excels making plays after the catch with the ball in his hands. And in a scheme designed for just that, Benjamin is an ideal fit.

On top of that, the hope is that the 30-year-old could provide the same level of veteran leadership that the now-departed Emmanuel Sanders did last year. With a young receiving core, Benjamin’s veteran status should prove invaluable.

Now, this signing doesn’t exactly change any future plans. The overwhelming odds are still that the 49ers address wide receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft — very possibly with the No. 13 overall pick.

Benjamin is simply depth — albeit very adequate depth.

Expect Benjamin to compete for a roster spot come training camp with some of the other depth receivers on the roster such as Richie James, Trent Taylor, and perhaps even Dante Pettis.

Benjamin will also likely compete with James for primary punt returning duties with the loser possibly missing out on a roster spot.

Ultimately, the Benjamin signing makes sense given what the 49ers were looking for. An experienced veteran who fits Shanahan’s offensive scheme.

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Travis Benjamin does just that.

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