The 49ers swapped the potential of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd for two draft choices from the Redskins, but they replaced him with one of the best receivers left on the free agent market.
Antonio Bryant agreed to a four-year, $15 million deal with the 49ers that included a signing bonus in excess of $5 million. The irony of Bryant's signing is that the 49ers tried to sign his replacement in Cleveland, Joe Jurevicius.
Jurevicius signed a four-year, $10 million deal with the Browns in order to return to his hometown. Bryant went to the 49ers to be their No. 1 receiver.
Bryant's coming off a 1,009 yard season with the Browns after catching 69 passes. He will reunite with a former teammate of his at the University of Pittsburgh, halfback Kevan Barlow.
A college star, Bryant spent his first two NFL seasons with the Cowboys before blossoming into a dependable receiver in Cleveland.
But he drew criticism from coach Romeo Crennel for drops and inconsistency. Bryant also made waves with his temper in Dallas, once getting kicked out of practice for arguing with coach Bill Parcells -- even throwing his sweaty uniform at the coach.
"I knew I had some baggage, but all in all I still feel like I [can] come in here and prove that I'm capable of being the receiver they need me to be," Bryant said. "I have a fresh canvas, I can definitely paint and what better organization? They've got a lot of great players, [and] it's the home of receivers."
Coach Mike Nolan spoke with several of Bryant's former coaches during his four days of pursuing the free agent, and he had two lengthy conversations with Bryant in the hours before his signing. Nolan came away impressed by Bryant's respect for the 49ers' legacy of star receivers, from Jerry Rice to Terrell Owens.
"I wanted to hear him talk specifically about a couple of instances they've had," Nolan said. "He talked about how he's matured and the things he's learned. He does get excited about certain things. He wants to get the ball ... and at times maybe hasn't shown that in the best ways."
Bryant, 25, has been in the league four seasons.
John Clayton is a senior NFL writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.