I haven't done a non-draft thread in a while and felt like putting one together that addresses a rather important area. This post will address the wide receiver position which is a big piece of the puzzle and equation of the west-coast-offense.
I have been thinking about the current situation with the 49ers wide receivers. The current roster features Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler. Kevin Jurovich, Bakari Grant, and Lance Long are all featured on the practice squad.
There has been discussion here and there since the season ended for the 49ers that there is still not a clear-cut number one receiver. This got me thinking quite a bit.
Do we need to spend a high draft pick again on another receiver? If so, who?
Are there any free agents out there that are worth pursuing? If so, who are they?
Do the 49ers already have their #1 and #2 on the current roster? Is it that they just haven't been able to peak due to the lack of competent coaching that was just here?
Those are all good questions - all worthy of asking. The important thing to do is to look at the big picture. Every single one of the 49ers wide receivers brings a unique aspect.
Recently, it dawned on me that we may just have the number one receiver on this roster right now. I had the privilege of getting to watch him in person on a few different occasions. The one thing I remember most about him as I watched, was just how explosive he was. He did not get a chance to play last season due to injury. And if you haven't guessed who at this point, well let me enlighten you. Kyle Williams has the potential to be our version of DeSean Jackson. Yes, I made the comparison. He may not have been drafted in the 2nd round like Jackson, but sometimes there are gems hidden in the later rounds. Williams just needs the chance to shine.
After the jump, I am going to provide a little more analysis on the five receivers who may be the ones to suit up every Sunday next year.
First, I'd like to attach a highlight feed of Williams while he attended ASU. Some of you after, or during the draft may not have seen what kind of talent this young talented athlete posseses.
Understand that this is a highlight feed. In a highlight feed, a player may seem unstoppable. I am not saying that Williams is that. No player is. And every single players has their flaws and weaknesses. One of Williams strengths however, is speed and very good hands. His route running is not the best, but he does tend to make very good cuts to shake the secondary to gain good separation.
Kyle Williams ran a 4.34 at his respective pro day. He also did his 20-yard shuffle in 2.59 seconds, followed by the 10-yard shuffle in 1.56. In other words, he's really, really quick and can make cuts with the best of them.
Ultimately, it's going to be up to Williams to emerge. It won't be easy, but solid performances in the preseason and camps could get him some real playing time in games. If he does well in those games, it could lead to more more reps. More reps, could lead to a starting position. And a starting position could wind up earning him the title of the number one receiver for the 49ers. It's a good thing for Williams that he faced Jim Harbaugh's team once a year for the duration of his collegiate career (minus his senior year in '09).
For some, it may seem like a long shot. But remember this... players emerge on teams rosters each and every year.
Now for Michael Crabtree. Crabtree has made some impossible balls to catch seem catchable. On the other side of the spectrum, he has made some insanely easy passes to him fall to the ground, or bounce up in to the secondary's hands.
I am partial to the idea that Crabtree still could be the number one receiver. In correspondence to where he was drafted, Crabtree should be the number one. From what most of what we have seen so far, he has not established himself as a true threat to opposing defenses. He can be contained and he can be stopped. Stopped rather easily at that. In 27 games, Crabtree has only had 100 yard games twice. His stats are subpar below where a true number one receivers should be. They are more inline with a teams second receivers production.
In essence, I think Crabtree's skill-set may be better suited as a slot receiver, a move-the-chains type of player if you will. Jerry Rice lined up in the slot quite a bit and ran slants taking them to the endzone. I am in no way comparing Crabtree to the greatest receiver ever to play the game. Just simply expressing that he can have a lot more success where he is better suited to play; out of the slot.
If Crabtree wants to be seen as the teams number one, he has much to prove. And we as fans are without question hungry to see more from the former Texas Tech wide receiver.
Josh Morgan is Josh Morgan. There is not a whole lot to say there other than that. He has been consistent in mediocrity since he became a 49er. But nothing more and nothing less was expected from the 6th rounder out of Virginia Tech. Morgan has good hands, but lacks concentration sometimes. He often is thinking about what he is going to do before he catches the pass. Another big flaw that Morgan has, is not going to the ground once he is wrapped up by 3 or 4 guys. Hey Josh, go down... you aren't going anywhere! Does anyone else feel like that? Anyhow, here are some highlights of Morgan.
Every time I see a ball wobble a bit in the air on any given pass, it always seems to remind me of Josh Morgan; "But... it came down like a punt coach". Ah, the good ol' Singletary days, they will be missed. In any case, there is no way that Morgan will be the one to emerge as the teams number one. If he does, it will not speak highly of the roster in terms of that position.
One thing that may hold true, is that Morgan is going to most likely secure that third spot and back up number two role in almost every single scenario. He does have talent. However, if Ginn ever decides to start catching passes on a regular basis, that could be all she wrote for Mr. Morgan. Zeigler has a good chance to emerge on the roster as well.
With that, let's take a look at the last two in Dominique Zeigler and Ted Ginn Jr.
TED GINN JR: Ginn is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL. He is excellent at returning kicks. Miami got rid of Ginn because he was unable to catch passes on a consistent basis. He has not dropped too many passes since he made the transition over to the west coast, but then again, he hasn't had a ton of opportunity which may speak deeper on what may be occuring though the weeks of practice leading up to the games. If Ginn could begin catching most everything, there is no doubt that he could be the number one. But he hasn't. And that's the point. Ginn is going to continue to return punts and kicks next year. That I know. But if Harbaugh thinks highly of him, he could be a guy that contributes a bit more for the 2011 season.
DOMINIQUE ZEIGLER: Zeigler is the tallest of the Niners receivers at 6'3". In his gear, he looks even taller than that. He has very good hands, and I cannot recall if he even dropped a target his way before he got injured against Arizona in week 12. Zeigler will be back next season, but he is going to have to show more. I know that there were a lot of 49er fans excited when Ziggy made it off the practice squad. If Josh Morgan is not careful, Zeigler could be a sleeper to creep up and snatch the rug right out from underneath him to take his place. Zeigler had 9 catches for 98 yards last year.