Niners hire Bobby Engram

Bobby Engram, a veteran NFL wide receiver well-versed in the West Coast Offense, was hired by the 49ers today as an offensive assistant coach.

Engram, 38, finished his 14-season career when he was cut on Sept. 4 by the Cleveland Browns. CSN Bay Area reported that Engram will work primarily with the wide receivers.

Engram spent eight seasons with the Seahawks (2001-08) and played in the West Coast Offense, a system the Niners will implement this season. At 34, Engram set career-highs in receptions (94) and yards (1,147) in 2007 while catching passes from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who will be a free agent. San Francisco would be a logical potential landing spot for Hasselbeck if he doesn’t re-sign with Seattle.

Engram will presumably work alongside wide receivers coach John Morton to help develop a young receivers corps headlined by Michael Crabtree, 23, and Josh Morgan, 25. Crabtree (55 catches, 741 yards, 6 TDs) and Morgan (44, 698, 2) ranked 51st and 87th, respectively, in the NFL in receptions this past season.

The Niners are the only NFL team to not have a wide receiver collect 900 yards in a season since 2003. In addition, a San Francisco wideout hasn’t ranked higher than 37th in the league in receptions or yardage in the past seven seasons.

Engram’s hiring will add another layer to the NFC West rivalry between the 49ers and the Seahawks. Seattle assistant coach Jeff Ulbrich spent his 10-year NFL career in San Francisco and the Seahawks have picked up several Niners – running back Michael Robinson and defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer among them – since former general manager Scot McLoughan landed in Seattle’s front office.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll were also Pac-10 rivals from 2007-2009.

Engram, a three-time All-American and the 1994 Biletnikoff Award winner at Penn State, is tied for 42nd in NFL history in receptions (650) and ranks 88th in yards (7,751).

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