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49ers Sign WR J.J. Stokes


The San Francisco 49ers took J.J. Stokes off the free-agent market Friday, signing the star wide receiver to a seven-year deal.

Details of the contract were not released, but team officials said it was worth more than $3 million a year with the last two years voidable.

"Money was not the deciding factor. That was kind of secondary," Stokes said. "I would love for my family to continue to come to my home games."

Stokes, a native of San Diego and a first-round draft pick out of UCLA in 1995, was plagued by injuries in his first two seasons but regained his health and blossomed in the past two years.

Paired with Terrell Owens while Jerry Rice was out with knee injuries in 1997, Stokes caught 58 passes for 733 yards and four touchdowns. Last season with Stokes, Owens and Rice posing one of the league's most formidable triple threats, Stokes had 63 catches for 770 yards and eight TDs.

General manager Bill Walsh had said one of his top priorities was re-signing Stokes and keeping San Francisco's wide receiver corps intact.

Stokes became an unrestricted free agent and had discussions with several other teams, including the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 49ers had never stopped talking with Stokes and were finally able to come to an agreement.

"I was looking for a fair deal from the 49ers throughout the season," Stokes said. "When that didn't happen, I said I was going to go out and explore my options. I went elsewhere just to see what was fair.

"I wanted a fair deal for me and I think they put one on the table for me, and I took it."

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