2012 NFL Free Agents: Why San Francisco 49ers Must Go After Stevie Johnson

Ryan Phillips@@RumorsandRantsContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 20:  Receiver Stevie Johnson #13 of the Buffalo Bills makes a catch in front of Cornerback Vontae Davis #21 of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers shocked the entire NFL this year by going 13-3 and reaching the NFC Championship game. While the team played well and certainly surpassed expectations, if the 49ers want to move forward, they must improve on the offensive side of the ball.

One huge hole on San Francisco's roster is at the wide receiver position, where Michael Crabtree has improved but isn't a dominant force, and no one else is even worth mentioning. Enter San Francisco native and two-time 1,000-yard receiver Stevie Johnson, who is set to hit free agency.

With the Buffalo Bills over the past two seasons, Johnson has been outstanding. In 2010 he had 82 receptions for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns, and this past season he racked up 76 catches for 1,004 yards and seven scores.

Johnson will turn 26 this summer and has only been in the league for four years, which means he probably hasn't even hit his prime yet. At 6'2" and 210 pounds, Johnson has the size and speed of an elite NFL receiver.

Pairing the Kentucky product with Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis would give San Francisco a potent receiving corps. Add in running back Frank Gore, and the 49ers' offense would go from questionable to a serious strength.

While quarterback Alex Smith may not be the long-term answer in San Francisco—and he needs to work out a contract with the team as well—even he couldn't play poorly with those weapons surrounding him.

The Bills and Johnson are reportedly far apart in contract negotiations, which means there is an opening for the 49ers to swoop in and get a deal done. This seems like an absolute no-brainer for San Francisco.