49ers Insider Links Team to Free Agency Move for Bills WR

Like any other team, the San Francisco 49ers will need to take strong but precise moves to improve an already talented roster. When it comes to wide receiver, the future of Brandon Aiyuk is everyone’s favorite talking point, but San Francisco also has to replace Ray-Ray McCloud III.

Buffalo Bills free agent Deonte Harty is being linked to the San Francisco 49ers

McCloud was the team’s special teams returner as well and essentially the team’s No. 4 or No. 5 receiver. While his expected departure isn’t a huge loss, The Athletic’s David Lombardi thinks the team could pursue Buffalo Bills WR Deonte Harty to replace McCloud.

“I would consider Deonte Harty a candidate to succeed Ray-Ray McCloud as 49ers return specialist,” Lombardi posted after reports of Harty’s release on March 6.

Harty is entering his sixth season in the NFL and will be looking for his third different team. But while the Bills are letting him go, there are several reasons why the 49ers or other teams would want his services.

As important as it is to retain Aiyuk or replace his production, it’s just as vital to reload at McCloud’s position and, potentially, Jauan Jennings‘ spot as well.

Deonte Harty Moving On After One Season with Bills

Coming out of college, Harty had very little hype due to him playing at Division II program Assumption. Despite that, he impressed the New Orleans Saints enough to earn a roster spot as an undrafted free agent.

Pro Football Reference shows that he exploded onto the scene as a punt returner in 2019. While only making six catches for 24 yards that year, he averaged 9.4 yards per punt return and scored his first NFL touchdown.

He was named to the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro squad, prompting New Orleans to give him a bigger role. While he was still dangerous as a punt returner, Harty totaled 36 receptions for 570 yards and three touchdowns in 2021.

After the 2022 season, Harty left the Saints in free agency for the Bills. It was a revival, as Harty averaged 12.4 yards per return and scored his first return TD since 2019. He also caught 15 receptions for 150 yards.

49ers WR Deebo Samuel Speaks on Trade Rumors

As mentioned above, the rest of the 49ers’ wide receiver group also feels fluid. Besides Aiyuk being linked to a possible trade and Jennings set for free agency, Deebo Samuel has also been named a possible trade candidate.

For the San Francisco fans that want to keep Samuel, his recent interview shouldn’t inspire confidence or doubt. Speaking on Up & Adams, the 49ers receiver was asked about a potential move.

“No idea,” Samuel said on March 5. “If I knew, I’d tell you… You know that’s just people getting on the internet.”

The 49ers have a difficult decision with Samuel. With Aiyuk now the No. 1 WR, San Francisco has to figure out if keeping Deebo is worth it. He is due a $21 million salary in 2024.

That being said, Samuel did come up big in 2023 despite injury issues and split-attention with Aiyuk. Deebo put up 1117 total yards from scrimmage and scored 12 touchdowns in the regular season.

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