We all know that I've been flying my freak flag for Dominique Zeigler for a couple years now. It's no secret that I want him to be the 5th receiver on, and that I don't want a sixth, regardless of my feelings toward Jason Hill. We've generated a fair amount of discussion on the matter in other threads and the like, but I figured we'd get a poll up for this point, probably with more to follow based on future performance in the next three games.
If we were to say that we presently have four locks: Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr and Kyle Williams, then that leaves a fifth position open for battle. I say five because it's unlikely the team carries six as they did last year. Last year they had no clear number one target, Michael Crabtree was holding out and Vernon Davis was, how you say, useless. Now that we have some targets, expect that number to drop in favor of, say, a backup fullback, a third tight end or a fifth safety. Make the jump.
The fifth spot would then be open for Jason Hill, Dominique Zeigler and Brandon Jones to get at. Let's take a look at these receivers, yeah?
Jason Hill: It's hard to quantify what Jason Hill brings to this team. Someone else on this site made the point that Jason Hill is basically a slower Ted Ginn, and I think it's comparable to a point. Jason Hill has always had more reliable hands, and was never shy about going over the middle. Hill, at the moment, appears to provide the same things as a combination of Ginn and Morgan, but the problem is his speed never seems to translate to the offense. He's a decent gunner on punt returns, and that's where the speed is evident. He had a bad drop on Sunday against the Colts, something you don't want to see.
Dominique Zeigler: Ziggy brings a bit to the offense it doesn't currently have. We know Crabtree has the hops, but I'd bet Ziggy out-jumps him again and again. Zeigler is the tallest 49ers receiver, and is an ideal option in the endzone, on the sidelines, and over the middle. He's a track-star in the high jump (among other things) and he has decent speed. He's known as probably the best route runner on the team, and is used as an example for other receivers when they don't run a route correctly. Zeigler's biggest knock is his wiry frame, and his ability to be a force on special teams coverage is a current issue. The team has been working him out at punt returner, I think it's clear they're actively searching for other reasons to include him on the team. He is no longer eligible for the practice squad.
Brandon Jones: Jones is hurt all the time. I don't know what he brings to the offense, because he's never out there. When he has been, I've not once seen that speed of his get the better of a defensive back, but he would seem to be another slower Ted Ginn, same as Jason Hill, albeit he's shown some pretty good hands with a knack for snagging in that hard pass... when he's able to be out there. I don't know much more about him, he looked bad on returns and I don't remember seeing him on special teams coverage. He's a decent receiver, but one has to wonder, factoring in the injuries, if he's a viable option with that salary.