At one point or another during this free agency period, the San Francisco 49ers have been ready to part ways with Alex Smith and Carlos Rogers, and from the beginning, there weren't many people even questioning whether or not wide receiver and return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. would be coming back. Most figured the 49ers would let him walk, for one reason or another.
Defining those reasons is actually kind of hard. He was never set to make a ton of money, and the team used him as their primary kick and punt returner in 2011, so why was it thought that he wouldn't be making a return? It's likely because most saw him on offense so much, and the 49ers just added two new receivers in Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.
But that's the thing - San Francisco doesn't really want to use him as a receiver so much. He's one of the better return specialists in the league. And the team announced, via Twitter, that Ginn is coming back on a one-year deal. It's kind of sudden, mostly because there wasn't any talk of Ginn returning for several days, and nobody had reported that the team was making attempts to bring him back.
Ginn was hoping to get a chance to play more receiver in 2012, but this writer's guess is that won't happen. He did get significant time in 2011, with injuries to the wide receivers and a complete lack of ability from Braylon Edwards. Now, he'll focus on being a return-man, and possibly be the fourth or fifth guy down on the depth chart.
Either way, it's a solid signing for the 49ers. They've brought in some guys who can handle kick returns, in Rock Cartwright and Perrish Cox, but punt returning is serious business that not just everyone can do. Ginn is one of the top players at the position and has been since entering the league. Ginn's important can be explained just by watching the NFC Championship game, when Kyle Williams filled in and committed a couple costly turnovers that cost the 49ers the game.