San Francisco Chronicle

49ers, Bruce agree on deal

Ex-Rams receiver to join Martz in San Francisco

Saturday, March 1, 2008

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(02-29) 19:46 PST -- Two days after 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan vowed the 49ers would not be big players in free agency this year, the team reached an agreement with 14-year veteran wide receiver Isaac Bruce on a two-year contract worth $6 million, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Bruce, 35, huddled with 49ers officials less than 24 hours after St. Louis released him following 14 seasons with the Rams.

This move is the first real stamp that 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz has made on his new team. The former Rams head coach - San Francisco's third offensive coordinator in three seasons - is now reunited with his most prolific receiver, a four-time Pro Bowler who has 942 career catches for 14,109 yards and 84 touchdowns.

The 49ers would not confirm the signing Friday evening, saying only that Bruce had talked to the team and that a deal was in the works.

With Martz as the offensive coordinator, the Rams used a spread offense to win Super Bowl XXXIV after the 1999 season. The Rams' attack featured league MVP Kurt Warner throwing quick, accurate strikes to receivers running complicated patterns, earning the offense the nickname "The Greatest Show on Turf."

Now the 49ers are hoping Bruce, along with Martz, can help quarterback Alex Smith capture some of that offensive excitement.

Bruce has had six seasons with 75 or more catches and eight seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards. In 2007, he had 55 catches for 733 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games for the Rams - more than any player on the 49ers' roster. Running back Frank Gore led the 49ers in receptions last season with 53 catches, followed by tight end Vernon Davis with 52 and wideout Arnaz Battle with 50.

McCloughan had emphasized this offseason that fans shouldn't expect the 49ers to jump into what is considered an average free-agent pool, one year after spending big bucks to acquire the likes of cornerback Nate Clements ($80 million.)

So much for restraint - the 49ers were among the first teams to reach agreements with free agents when the signing period began at 9:01 p.m. Thursday.

They signed former Lions backup quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan to a one-year, $645,000 deal, securing another former Martz player. Martz was the offensive coordinator in Detroit the past two seasons before being fired.

Former Steelers cornerback/kick returner Allen Rossum, who was waived by Pittsburgh last week, signed a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum ($870,000.) Then the 49ers landed former Panthers halfback De- Shaun Foster, signing him to a two-year, $1.8 million contract. Former Vikings linebacker Dontarrious Thomas also reached agreement with the 49ers on a two-year deal.

During the day, 49ers officials were eager hosts to former Bengals defensive end Justin Smith, a pass rusher they have been eying for weeks. Smith left Santa Clara without a deal in place and he is expected to visit the Vikings either today or Sunday.

The 49ers also lost a Justin - guard Justin Smiley, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Dolphins less than an hour after the signing period began. Smiley's deal includes $9 million in guarantees.

Back to the 'Stick: Candlestick Park returns to original name. B1

Stats

2007

Rec55

Yards733

Average13.3

TDs4

Career

Rec942

Yards14,109

Average15.0

TDs84

E-mail Nancy Gay at ngay@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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