AP source: 49ers agree to 1-year deal with Travis Benjamin
By JOSH DUBOW
The San Francisco 49ers have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent receiver Travis Benjamin.
A person familiar with the deal says the sides reached agreement on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn't been announced. NFL Network first reported the agreement.
San Francisco also officially announced a deal to re-sign safety Jimmie Ward to a three-year contract worth a reported $28.5 million that had been agreed to last week. The Niners also announed a one-year deal to sign former Arizona linebacker Joe Walker to a deal that had been agreed to on Monday and that exclusive rights free agent tight end Ross Dwelley signed his one-year tender.
The 30-year-old Benjamin provides depth at receiver after Emmanuel Sanders left in free agency. San Francisco has Deebo Samuel set at one spot, Kendrick Bourne returning and Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd coming off injuries. The Niners also could use one of their two first-round picks for a receiver.
Benjamin entered the league as a fourth-round pick by Cleveland in 2012 and was on the Browns in 2014 when 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was the team's offensive coordinator.
Benjamin played only five games last year for the Chargers because of a quadriceps injury. His best year came in 2015 for the Browns when he had 68 catches for 966 yards and five TDs. He signed with the Chargers the following year and had 99 catches for 1,460 yards in four seasons.
Ward was one of the key potential free agents on the defending NFC champion 49ers and keeping him was a priority. Ward was a first-round pick in 2014 but dealt with a series of injuries that forced him to miss 29 games over his first five seasons.
He also struggled with constant position changes, playing outside cornerback, in the slot and safety before finding a home as the deep safety on San Francisco's stellar pass defense last season.
Ward was a major reason San Francisco allowed only eight completions on passes that traveled at least 20 yards downfield in the regular season, the fewest in the NFL over the past 14 seasons, according to SportRadar.
"Jimmie has proven to possess many of the characteristics we are looking for in a 49er, and we are excited to keep him in red and gold," general manager John Lynch said. "His no-nonsense passion for the game amplifies his special physical abilities, while also setting a tone for our defense. This extension allows Jimmie to continue to grow in our defense and we look forward to seeing where he can take his game."
Ward has 267 tackles, 28 passes defensed, three sacks and two interceptions in 64 career games.
Walker had 65 tackles in 16 games for Arizona last season. He is a key contributor on special teams and will fill the void created when San Francisco didn't tender reserve linebacker Elijah Lee a contract.
Dwelley played all 16 games last season, recording 15 catches for 91 yards and two TDs.
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Updated March 24, 2020