San Francisco 49ers wide receiver problems analysis
Now how could the 49ers, one of the participants of last season’s Super Bowl, have wide receiver problems? Well if you were living under a rock for the past couple of months then I understand why you are confused. It all started with starting WR Michael Crabtree going down during OTAs and that caused some serious problems right away. One of the clear reasons that was a problem was because Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target. Kaepernick last throw in the Super Bowl was actually towards Michael Crabtree so it showed how much trust Kaepernick had in Crabtree. However things got a little more complicated than that.
2012 first round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers was WR A.J. Jenkins from University of Illinois. Jenkins was suppose to be the 2nd wide receiver in the opposite side of Crabtree and the 1st wide receiver in case if Crabtree ever goes down with injury. However, ever since Crabtree got his injury Jenkins has not been impressive at all in OTAs and training camp. What makes it worse is that there is some speculation that maybe Jenkins’s roster spot is in jeopardy because of how poorly he has performed in OTAs and training camp. Remember with the new CBA, it is cheaper for teams to dump their first round draft choices compared to before the new CBA was reached.
Just to show you how much Crabtree means to the 49ers, Crabtree last regular season had about twice as much receptions than the second leading receiver in receptions which was WR Mario Manningham who is also hurt with a knee injury. Also Crabtree had more than twice the number of receiving yards as the second leading receiver in yards which was TE Vernon Davis. Also Crabtree had 4 more TDs than the second leading receiver in TDs which was TE Vernon Davis. The stats are on this link. It shows that the 49ers receiving unit strength was Crabtree. However the 49ers did get one notable additions to their receiving unit which was former Baltimore Raven WR Anquan Boldin. One bad side about Boldin is that he hasn’t reached to the 1,000 receiving yard mark since going to Baltimore from Arizona. If Boldin can become the receiver that he was with Arizona then for sure Boldin can pick up the slack that was left since Crabtree’s injury. The good thing is that Kaepernick seems that he is going to be depending on Boldin a lot like how he depended on Crabtree on the second half of last regular season and on the Super Bowl run.
Other than WR Anquan Boldin and TE Vernon Davis there really isn’t a clear number 2 receiver even though the 49ers added former Colts WR Austin Collie about a week ago. Most teams at least have a consistent number 2 receiver for them to have a successful season like for example: Ravens: Boldin-Smith, Falcons: Jones-White, and the Broncos: Decker-Thomas. The only exception to that is the Patriots but they have an excellent running game and a HOF QB in Tom Brady. If Boldin does not play at a high standard then Kaepernick is going to have a tough time finding receivers open. I don’t expect Kaepernick to have a lot of passing yards next season but he will have a lot of rushing yards as he improvises with his legs due to the lack of talent in the receiving core.
Other Sources: Pro Football Talk, CSNBayarea.com, ninersnation, NFL.com, ESPN.com, SBNation.com