SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With the draft looming at the end of April, smoke screen season is in full effect.
That means reports, rumors and free agent visits will dominate the news wire while teams remain mum about players they are interested in drafting when the draft kicks off April 30.
Those free agent visits fall under the umbrella of 'due diligence.' Teams will bring in players that haven't signed elsewhere for meetings to see exactly why that player remains unemployed - or if there's something to know about that player that's being overlooked by other teams. The mandate is to gather as much information as possible while throwing the rest of the league off the scent in terms of draft preparation.
So, Hakeem Nicks, come on down.
The 49ers will visit with the six-year veteran receiver Monday, as first reported by ESPN. Nicks spent last season with the Indianapolis Colts after playing his first five years with the New York Giants.
Nicks, 27, put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011, but saw a decline in his production after dealing with various leg and foot injuries. He played in all 16 games for the Colts in 2014, making six starts, with 38 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns.
The 49ers have reportedly been interested in Nicks dating back to the trade deadline in 2013, when his name was linked to San Francisco after its receiving corps had been depleted because of Michael Crabtree's Achilles tear and Mario Manningham's ACL tear. Nicks was also brought in for a free agent visit last offseason before choosing Indianapolis.
Picked 19 slots ahead of Nicks in 2009, Crabtree remains on the free agent market after having one reported meeting with the Miami Dolphins earlier this month. The market for Crabtree has been quiet after his disappointing contract year in 2014 when he amassed 68 catches for 698 yards and four TDs. His 10.3 yards per catch was a career low. Physically, Crabtree has not looked the same since tearing his Achilles in the 2013 offseason.
San Francisco landed free agent wideout Torrey Smith, 26, with a five-year, $40 million deal to become the team's highest-paid receiver and general manager Trent Baalke's most expensive free agent to date since taking over personnel decisions in 2010. Smith joins his former teammate from Baltimore Anquan Boldin in the starting lineup, while Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton and Jerome Simpson will battle for playing time.
The 49ers are also likely to add a receiver in the draft, potentially with their first-round selection (15th overall), with Boldin, 35, entering the final year of his contract. Their options could include West Virginia's Kevin White, Alabama's Amari Cooper or Louisville's DeVante Parker. However, the 49ers may have to move up in the draft to get one of those three players.
Jaelan Strong (Arizona State), Breshad Perriman (Central Florida), Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri) and Phillip Dorsett (Miami) are options beyond those three marquee receivers in this spring's class, who are likely to be available at 15 and later into the second round.