The 49ers have signed wide receivers Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Both players will look to make the final cut as insurance for Deebo Samuel. Terms of the deals are not yet known, but they’re likely for the veteran minimum with little in the way of guarantees.
Austin was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013, but he has yet to justify his draft status. At the age of 30, it seems unlikely to happen now. Still, coaches continue to be tantalized by his speed. Austin, in theory, could contribute as a receiver, rusher, and returner.
Over seven injury-laden years in the NFL, Austin has caught 215 passes while averaging less than yards per catch. He did average more than 15 yards per grab over the last two seasons with the Cowboys, but that was in a super small sample size of 21 receptions. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan could get creative with Austin – as Sean McVay did in L.A. – and try him in a variety of spots.
Nelson posted back-to-back 500-yard seasons with the Cardinals in 2016 and 2017, but his offensive role has dwindled since then. In 2019, he had four grabs in 15 games for the Raiders.