San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver Travis Benjamin has opted-out of the 2020 season.
Benjamin joins a growing list of NFL players to opt-out of the 2020 season amidst growing concerns over the safety of play given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But while the list of players has reached over 60 at this point, Benjamin is so far the only 49ers player to officially announce his decision. The deadline for opting out is Thursday at 1 p.m. PST so we should know everyone’s fate by tomorrow.
For now, however, Benjamin is the only one.
The 49ers signed Benjamin back in April to hopefully provide additional depth to a thin and very inexperienced wide receiver corps. Following the departure of Emmanuel Sanders, Benjamin was expected to be one of the only experienced veterans at the position.
Now, the oldest member of the receiving corps is slot receiver Trent Taylor. Taylor has fewer than 70 career catches and is just 26-years-old. Talk about a youth movement.
Benjamin was not only there to provide experience, but to compete for one of the depth wide receiver roles. And with both Deebo Samuel and Richie James out, the team’s options have become very limited.
The 49ers will need a host of young receivers to step up in Travis Benjamin’s place.
First-round pick Brandon Aiyuk will undoubtedly be asked to step into a starting role early in his rookie season. Meanwhile, the ever-reliable Kendrick Bourne is now perhaps the most accomplished player at the position.
Those two will start alongside Samuel once the 2019 standout returns, but for the time being, it will be all hands on deck — especially with Benjamin now gone.
Guys like Taylor, Dante Pettis, and Jalen Hurd — three players who had years to forget last season — will be called upon to step up in the meantime. And Benjamin’s absence could lead the way for a younger player like seventh-round pick Jauan Jennings to make the final roster.
Either way, it’s pretty clear that it’s time for the young guys to shine.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan will have his hands full as he looks to maximize the talent at his disposal. Benjamin may not have been the most integral member of the 49ers in 2020.
But he was far from an afterthought. His absence will be felt.