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49ers interested in NFL’s top punt returner [report]

© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It was evident last season that the 49ers’ greatest weaknesses lay with their special teams unit.

Brandon Aiyuk spent a fair amount of time returning punts to mixed results, and eventually Travis Benjamin took on that punt return role to fair success. Deebo Samuel was excellent on kickoffs, but those plays are dangerous, especially for a player of his value.

According to Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, the 49ers may be looking to upgrade specifically at returner, with Ray-Ray McCloud, the man who led the NFL with 367 punt return yards for Pittsburgh last season.

“The Colts, 49ers, Lions and Packers all expressed interest in the 25-year-old McCloud during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, according to sources, and are among teams expected to make an offer to the wideout once the negotiating window officially opens,” Benjamin wrote.

In addition to being an excellent returner, McCloud took on an increased receiving role in Pittsburgh, catching 39 passes for 277 yards. That reception total would have ranked fourth on the 49ers.


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