Why 49ers signing Dez Bryant would be a low-risk, high-reward move

Alex Didion
NBC Sports BayArea

At this point in the NFL season, it's not only plausible that the 49ers are bona fide Super Bowl contenders, it's not even disputable.

The final remaining undefeated team in the NFL -- sporting one of the most dominant defenses in the league -- this team is ahead of schedule and looks poised to beat just about any team it comes across.

However, the offense in San Francisco still leaves something to be desired. 

The addition of Emmanuel Sanders opened up the 49ers offense a great deal, as the speedy wideout already has carved out a significant role within Kyle Shanahan's scheme.

One thing this offense lacks nonetheless is someone who can stretch the field vertically and be a threat in the red zone.

John Lynch was hoping Dante Pettis would grow into that role when he spent a second-round draft pick on the Washington alum, but the 24-year-old has been inconsistent all season and has just two catches for 26 yards over the past three weeks.

Deebo Samuel has flashed potential but also has shown a propensity for dropping passes and at 5'11, is not a candidate for a fade route in the red zone against a strong run defense.

Enter Dez Bryant.

Now I realize that not only has Bryant not played a regular-season game since 2017, but he has been known to generate a lot of media attention, something that doesn't resonate particularly well with the 49ers front office. 

Be that as it may, people seem to forget that Bryant was one of the most dominant receivers in the NFL for a number of years in his prime and was a first-team All-Pro wideout in 2014 with the Dallas Cowboys.

His last attempt to return to football was cut short almost immediately, as he tore his Achilles tendon in practice just two days after being signed by the New Orleans Saints.

He recently has indicated interest in a return to the NFL and wants to begin contacting teams in a few weeks.

Lynch and Shanahan could take a page out of the New England Patriots' playbook and give an obviously talented player who does come with significant baggage a chance. Bill Belichick and Co. have seen success in the past with mid-season acquisitions of guys like Josh Gordon and Michael Floyd.

Bryant is 6'2 and was last listed at 220 pounds, making him an inch taller and at least five pounds heavier than the next closest 49ers' wide receiver.

He would at the very least be a distraction for opposing defenses if at full strength, allowing the running game and other targets to be freed up.

George Kittle continues to be a question mark healthwise as we start the descent down the back half of the NFL season, and likely won't be able to get healthy for the postseason without missing a game or two down the stretch.

Jimmy Garoppolo needs another weapon in the event Kittle or another pass-catcher misses time, and Bryant would be just that. There's no doubt that a brilliant play artist like Shanahan could draw up some pretty dangerous plays involving an elite outside receiver, something he hasn't had since Julio Jones was playing within his offense in Atlanta.

Once the postseason rolls around, the defenses are going to ratchet up in talent and Shanahan will have to dive deep into his bag of tricks if he wants to get past NFC stalwarts like the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.

What if that bag of tricks included a receiver who once had 16 touchdowns in a season, and makes plays like this?

If San Francisco doesn't go after him, another team will.

New England might already have a locker reserved for him knowing the way that organization has aggressively pursued talent in the past.

It's a low-risk, high-reward move that may not pay immediate dividends, but could be the difference in a tightly contested NFC playoff game or even in a potential Super Bowl matchup. 

[RELATED: Gordon's status up in the air for Seahawks-49ers on MNF]

Worst-case scenario? He isn't in good shape or becomes a distraction and the team cuts him, with little to no significant cost to the 49ers.

As a brilliant philosopher (or Michael Scott, depending on who you ask) once said, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.

Why 49ers signing Dez Bryant would be a low-risk, high-reward move originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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