Wide receiver Jon Baldwin has reportedly taken a pay cut, signaling a potential return to the 49ers.
According to a report from ESPN Boston, Baldwin is slated to make $645,000 in base salary this season - reduced from his original number of $1.4 million. His new number is far more palatable for San Francisco, who would have likely released Baldwin if he had not agreed to the pay cut.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports Baldwin's incentives to earn his original salary stand at playing 80 percent of the team's snaps, finishing with 65 catches for more than 800 yards. The Chief's former No. 1 pick from 2011 will still be in the final year of his rookie contract and isn't a guarantee to make the roster. He appeared in just seven games for San Francisco last season making three catches for 28 yards.
The 49ers acquired Baldwin in a trade for receiver A.J. Jenkins in a trade last August, who finished the year appearing in all 17 games for Kansas City, making 9 receptions for 157 yards. He went his entire rookie season in 2012 without making a catch for the 49ers.
At 6-4 with a 42-inch vertical jump and 4.34 speed, Baldwin earned himself a first-round grade at the 2011 scouting combine before becoming the third receiver selected at 26th overall out of Pittsburgh. His athleticism represents the downfield vertical threat the 49ers are lacking, but they didn't see enough from him on the practice field to make him active down the stretch. Instead, the team's fourth receiver on the roster was special teams standout Kassim Osgood.
In three collegiate seasons with the Panthers, Baldwin amassed 2,337 yards on 128 catches and 16 touchdowns. In his first two years, he averaged 21.5 and 20.2 yards per catch respectively.
With San Francisco likely to address receiver in this year's draft, Baldwin will have even more competition for playing time in 2014. But for now, his reduced cap number gives the team more flexibility as they work on bringing back Anquan Boldin (more here) and saving cap space for the following year.
Follow Editor in Chief Chris Biderman on Twitter.
Get updates from NinersDigest by following here and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and analysis.