49ers to sign veteran speedsters Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson

49ers (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly set to sign veteran wide receivers Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson.

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t run into the best injury luck over the last couple of months, particularly at the wide receiver position.

Before the team even took the field for the official start of training camp, injuries to the likes of Deebo Samuel and Richie James decimated what was already a thin receiving corps, to begin with.

Samuel, in particular, will leave a major hole in the offense — especially given that he’s likely set to miss at least the first game or two of the season as he recovers from a broken foot.

Suddenly, the 49ers were left with an inexperienced group of receivers led by the likes of Kendrick Bourne, first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk, and a host of other unproven receivers.

26-year-old Trent Taylor remained the oldest member of the receiving corps following Travis Benjamin’s decision to opt-out. However, Taylor has less than 70 career receptions to his name.

It was clear that the 49ers needed to not only add depth, but experienced depth if they were to field a competent group of receivers while Samuel remained sidelined.

And it appears as though they’re on the verge of doing so.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday, the 49ers plan to sign veteran wide receivers Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson, pending physicals.

Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson will provide an extra element of speed to the San Francisco 49ers’ offense.

A first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Austin never lived up to expectations in his five seasons with the Rams. More of a gadget player/return man than anything else, Austin’s speed and versatility are valuable, but he hasn’t exactly been a reliable offensive contributor.

Austin has spent the last two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys primarily serving as a punt returner and occasional receiver. But with just 21 catches over the last two seasons, it’s safe to say he shouldn’t be relied on as a starter.

As for Nelson, the former fifth-round pick served as an exciting deep threat for the Arizona Cardinals from 2015 to 2018 until he was eventually phased out of the offense.

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Nelson played two games with the Raiders last season, but was promptly released in October. Still, he managed four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown in a Week 3 performance against the Minnesota Vikings.

Both Austin and Nelson fit the bill for a typical Kyle Shanahan receiver. Speed, speed, and more speed.

Austin, in particular, could be an excellent fit for Shanahan’s motion-based offense. And if any system is going to maximize the raw talent that the former West Virginia star possesses it’s Shanahan’s.

At the very least, both should provide some much-needed depth to a wide receiving corps that was looking very thin.

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It remains to be seen if either makes the roster, but expect some more excitement in training camp with the addition of two of the faster receivers in the league.