Kevin White may be on his last chance in the NFL.
White, the former first-round pick who battled injuries in his four years with the Chicago Bears, just signed with the San Francisco 49ers. White turned 28 in June and can compete for playing time in a receiving unit decimated by injuries.
Although White has that opportunity, can he truly take advantage of it, or will injuries get in the way once again?
Kevin White just signed with the San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers desperately needed bodies in their wide receivers room — and Antonio Brown, as talented as he is, never had a chance of entering that conversation.
Deebo Samuel has a foot injury that will keep him out through the start of the season. Rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk has a hamstring injury and is considered questionable for the 49ers’ Week 1 game vs. the Arizona Cardinals.
Former Baylor standout Jalen Hurd will miss the season with a torn ACL. Dynamic receiver Richie James has also been battling a wrist injury.
Enter Kevin White, who hasn’t played in an NFL game since December 2018. He will join the 49ers immediately and try to make their opening roster.
The 49ers also signed another receiver, River Cracraft. A record-setting receiver at Washington State, Cracraft’s only catch — a 44-yard reception — came in December 2018 when he played for the Denver Broncos.
Injuries turned White into a bust with the Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears used the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft on Kevin White, an All-American receiver from West Virginia.
White’s rookie season should have been a sign of things to come after he missed the year with a shin injury.
White finally debuted in 2016 and flashed, catching 19 passes for 187 yards in four starts. Then, White fractured the fibula in October 2016 and missed the rest of the season.
White would finally stay healthy in 2017, right? Nope: he fractured his left shoulder blade after catching two passes in the opener and once again went on IR.
White caught four passes, including a 54-yard Hail Mary, across nine games in 2018.
Chicago previously hadn’t picked up White’s fifth-year option and let him walk in free agency.
Although White signed with the Arizona Cardinals in the spring of 2019, he never played a game for them.
Can Kevin White salvage his career with the San Francisco 49ers?
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about Kevin White actually contributing to the San Francisco 49ers this season.
All it takes is one wrong movement when White first takes the field to join the rest of San Francisco’s injured receivers.
San Francisco needs bodies, though. Given Kyle Shanahan’s previous success with getting the most out of forgotten players like running back Raheem Mostert, White could finally break out if he stays healthy.
Jimmy Garoppolo has to throw the ball to someone, right? If White is healthy and shows why the Bears thought so highly of him, there’s not much stopping him from taking advantage of this opportunity.
Kevin White salvaging his career with the 49ers certainly would be one of the season’s better stories, especially if he helps them return to the Super Bowl.