I was checking out MM's blog earlier today and he threw out some tidbits about the team, with several specifically about the wide receivers and tight ends. The issues of the wide receivers (henceforth to include tight ends as related to this discussion) obviously relate to the rest of the offense and particularly the quarterbacks. However, I just wanted to look at the wide receivers as an isolated unit. While there is not a single stud wide receiver, I feel there is enough talent across the board to make up for the lack of a true #1 receiver (for now). Later in the offseason we'll look at the wide receivers as a whole, but a tidbit from MM's blog stood out:
Ashley Lelie spent his redshirt season re-learning the wide receiver position with WR coach Jerry Sullivan. Lelie, a low-key individual, was clearly frustrated. But at the end of the year, he said he thought he was vastly improved. (Sullivan said the same thing.) Lelie appears to be on the radar screen, so he'll get a chance to emerge in a crowded receiving corps that includes Bryant Johnson, Isaac Bruce, Arnaz Battle, Jason Hill and Josh Morgan.
So, what do people think the 49ers can expect from Ashley Lelie in 2008? All I've read since the end of the season was how much Lelie improved under the tutelage of Jerry Sullivan. Of course we didn't see this on the field as Lelie finished with 10 catches for 115 yards. So will Jerry Sullivan's pet project pan out in 2009?
While Lelie has never had the huge breakout season, he has shown he can be a productive wide receiver. In 2004 he finished the season with 54 receptions, 1084 yards and 7 TDs. of course, since then his numbers have continuously dropped. At the age of 28 he should be in the prime of his career. Instead he's hanging on by a thread, continuing to get chances on his talent, not his production.
So, I've thrown up a poll here to get some predictions. Rather than post predictions for numbers, I thought it'd be simpler to just see where he'll end up on the depth chart. In addition to Lelie, the current receiving corp includes Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Jason Hill, Josh Morgan and Jerard Rabb (undrafted free agent). So where does Ashley Lelie end up? Feel free to throw out statistical predictions in the comments.