The 49ers kept adding to their offense on Thursday, as they announced the signing of wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. to a one-year contract. The announcement came just hours after the team officially inked fellow receiver Mario Manningham to a two-year deal.
In his first career tour as an unrestricted free agent, Ginn visited the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions this offseason. But ultimately, Ginn left his heart in San Francisco.
"The 49ers are my heart," Ginn said in Thursday's conference call with the local media. "We went so far that I just felt like coming back was the best thing for me and my family."
Even as he went window shopping around the NFL, Ginn couldn't help but think about the past two seasons he spent with the 49ers. Ginn was an important piece to arguably the finest special teams unit in the league last season, as he proved to be a valuable return man on kickoffs and punts.
But it sounds like the cohesive locker room and his connections with teammates were the ultimate draw back to the Bay Area.
"We have a family," Ginn said. "When I walked out of here on my last day – me, (general manager) Trent Baalke and (coach Jim) Harbaugh – we came to a conclusion and we had a plan."
There's no understating Ginn's achievements last year.
The 2011 season opener, mind you, was wrapped up when Ginn returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. In all, Ginn ranked third in the NFL in kickoff return average (27.6 yards) and fourth in punt return average (12.3 yards).
The five-year veteran is also excited to join a revamped group of wideouts, which includes Michael Crabtree and free agent signees Manningham and Randy Moss.
Ginn is particularly excited to work alongside Moss, respected NFL veteran.
"Randy Moss is a great in this league," Ginn said. "He's an icon. To have that type of player on your team – with all the accolades that man has – coming to a great team that we have, putting us altogether, it should be a something to see."
As 49ers CEO Jed York tweeted Thursday afternoon, the organization added a pair of Ohio-born receivers in Manningham and Ginn. Turns out Ginn, a Cleveland native, is already familiar with Manningham, who hails from nearby Warren. As a high school star, Manningham played against Ginn's father, who is a renowned prep football coach at Glenville High in Cleveland.
"I watched Manningham beat my father single-handedly his senior year," Ginn said. "I know him well."
One man who has to be happy is newly-signed quarterback Alex Smith.
The 49ers offense now features an upgraded passing attack, one which Ginn expects to thrive in. Together with a top-notch special teams group and a defense that returns all 11 starters from its stingy unit last year, the 49ers look poised to make noise in 2012.
"I'm going to continue to be me," Ginn said. "I'm going to compete for a job and that's all I can ask for. The opportunity is here and I'm just going to go out here and put my best foot forward."
Click here to listen to Ginn's conference call