Now that Mike Martz is running the offense, the wide receivers will certainly play a bigger role and more talented receivers will be necessary (thank you Captain Obvious). After the top 3 of Battle, Bruce and Johnson, the team has an assortment of knick-knacks, each of which has a different set of fans. Although nothing is guaranteed, I'd imagine Jason Hill and Ashley Lelie are pretty much assured of roster spots, barring injury. That leaves 2008 draftee Josh Morgan and guys like Dominique Ziegler, Robert Jordan and Cam Colvin (among others) competing for a roster spot that might not even be there. I'll discuss the roster futures of those last three later, but for now we'll talk about former Hokie Josh Morgan.
There's been a decent amount of press around Morgan during OTAs, as he appears to be putting on quite a little show in practice. He's made some nice catches and is getting good press from Nolan. Maiocco is doing a feature involving 5 questions posed to new 49ers. Here's his piece with Morgan. For Morgan, it is not necessarily a matter of competing for a wide receiver position. The five wide receivers mentioned above are more or less locked in to roster spots. It's a matter of whether the 49ers think he can make a contribution, as compared to anybody else at any position. He will actually be competing with guys like Marcus Hudson, Thomas Clayton, Melvin Oliver and Roderick Green (among many others) for a roster spot.
It's easy to get excited about big practice performers (also known as the Brandon Williams club). However, scouting reports would indicate Morgan is a guy who will definitely bring something to the table:
Morgan was overshadowed at Virginia Tech by Eddie Royal, but early in their careers Morgan was the better overall player. What he lacks in elite speed, he makes up for with good size and quickness. He will get in and out of his breaks quickly, with little wasted movement. In the Mike Martz scheme he will be asked to run inside routes based on timing. Morgan can do this, showing the ability to make the quick cut on his outside foot when running the slant. Morgan must get better at catching every pass, as he has shown some inconsistencies.
While he certainly has some apparent weaknesses, Morgan is definitely in a good learning environment with a guy like Isaac Bruce to emulate. Maiocco asked him about working with Bruce:
Instant 49ers: Is [Bruce] approachable?
Morgan: He's very approachable. He's down to earth. He talked to me a couple times when I first got here at the minicamp. He saw the coach getting on me. I just got there and didn't know the plays and the coaches wanted me to just go full speed. He came to me and said he saw me working and told me to keep working hard and that I looked good. Those comments took the load off my shoulders. For someone like him to tell me I was OK and to keep working hard meant a lot. He told me to get in the playbook and keep working hard. That's what I'm doing so far.
It is certainly great to have a guy like Isaac Bruce on the roster to help the young guys develop. However, it is equally important that the youngsters take advantage of the wisdom Bruce brings to the table. Morgan certainly appears to be on the right track, but it will take some time to see how it plays out. The OTAs have had no pads so that will be one benchmark. After that, it will come down to some preseason production. Of course, Morgan could produce in the preseason and still be stuck on the practice squad. Just look at Thomas Clayton last August.