When the 49ers went out and got Braylon Edwards in free agency, he instantly put pressure on 49ers 1st round draft pick from 2009, Michael Crabtree to be that number one receiver. In review and in hindsight, Crabtree has yet to live up to the potential that the 49ers thought he had; which is not to say he won't but he's definitely got an uphill climb with Edwards on the roster. Time will obviously be the ultimate factor in deciding that.
In making the move for Edwards, one would have to assume that this will either make or break Crabtree.
Crabtree has been dealing with foot issues since he has come in to the league so it is not news, or a surprise that he will be out. This is the same foot that he broke before the 2009 NFL Draft as most of you know.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com expects Michael Crabtree ready to go by the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, September 11th. This will be the first time that all three of, Braylon Edwards, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis will be on the field at the same time which could prove to be a deadly combo in the NFC West.
Keep in mind that some of the younger receivers will be getting more playing time in the preseason due to Crabtree's absence. With one less guy in there taking reps, it is certain that someone who will shine in the preseason will be put on the practice squad or outright released.
If the 49ers can get even just average play out of one of the two quarterbacks in the so-called competition, and the offensive line can begin to gel as a unit and find the right chemistry, then the 49ers could still be set up to give the opposition some tough games. But it is too soon to go and start naming division favorites this early in the preseason.
In light of all of this, the receivers did not play good in Friday's game, nor did they play horrible. One receiver did not stand out from the other all that much. There were flashes here and there from some of the guys but there were just as many mistakes. This was one area that could have stood to gain improvement but the same could be said across the board.
Follow after the break in reviewing and previewing all the 49ers receivers.
Michael Crabtree - Crabtree obviously gets an incomplete against the Saints. This pattern will continue throughout the preseason as mentioned above. With the addition of Braylon Edwards, we could see a lot more big plays out of the former Texas Tech wide receiver during the regular season. The 49ers will expect big things from Crabtree this year and if he does not live up to expectations, then we could see him on a trading block as early as next year. Although, if history has taught us anything, the 49ers are extremely patient with some of their 1st round draft picks.
Braylon Edwards - Edwards was not in the game against the Saints for very long but when he was, he proved that he will be a force to defend against. His large frame obviously gives him an advantage against most cornerbacks in the league. Expect big things from Edwards and he could now be the front runner as the number one wide receiver on this team. Although, he only caught a single pass for 12 yards. He looked a bit rusty but should look a little more polished in the upcoming games with more time to consume the information in his new playbook.
His future is still up in the air with commissioner Roger Goodell as to whether or not he will have to sit out for a few games in 2011 for his involvement in an altercation at a bar in Michigan.
Josh Morgan - Similar to Edwards, Morgan simply was not on the field for long. He held a few good blocks on the outside but was not targeted at all in the game. We all know that Morgan can block well. He may get more playing time against the Raiders next week. Morgan is a player that could be on the bubble for the number three receiver spot and may have to share time if guys like Kyle Williams, Ronald Johnson, Ted Ginn, or others if he cannot elevate his play.
*Kyle Williams - Williams was the leader of receptions on offense for the Niners against the Saints (tied with Lance Long). He wound up with 2 receptions for 34 yards on the day with his longest, a 25-yarder, that came on a slant across the middle working from the slot. It appeared like he could've possibly broken loose if his own teammate, Ronald Johnson would not have gotten in the way. It almost looked as though Johnson was making a score saving tackle against his own teammate. I guess he must really, really want to make the team.
Williams did not do much to astonish in the way of punt returns, so in that regard he needs work. He also was out there knocking defensive linemen and linebackers around in a Hines Ward type of fashion. He laid a really nice block to open up the edge on a run by Kendall Hunter followed by a questionable block on another lineman as quarterback Colin Kaepernick was forced out of the pocket in to a scramble.
There is still a long way to go for Williams in this preseason but he probably had the best outing from the corps against the Saints. He will need to remain healthy if he wants a shot at Morgan's job.
Ted Ginn Jr. - Another incomplete. Ginn did not get in the game at all. I am not sure he even traveled to New Orleans with the team. Ginn is another former 1st round underachiever that the 49ers have collected. While Ginn could add some value on special teams, he has throughout his career had a horrible case of the dropsy's. His future is very uncertain at this point. I am not sure if he will try and sit out a majority of the preseason to try and make the team based on name alone, or if he will finally get significant playing time in the next few games showing us all that he still knows how to drop a good pass, or two.
Ronald Johnson - Johnson was pretty hot and cold in the game. Mostly hot in returning punts and mostly cold in receiving the ball. He had some badly thrown passes to him but at one point dropped a pass that hit him right in the numbers on a longer pass thrown by Kaepernick. It was well-defended but if it hits you in the numbers and you are trying to make a team with a lot of talent at the position right behind you, you need to make those grabs.
Johnson's highlight of the day came on 23-yard punt return where at one point of the play looked like he had the ability to take it to the house. He looks like he could be a good candidate in replacing Ginn in this department should Ginn not make the team. He has a really good shot at making the club but will need to be a bit more sure-handed in hanging on to his "baby".
Lance Long - Lance Long showed that he has some really good awareness in going across the middle. A lot of younger receivers will flinch when passes are thrown deep across the middle. Long hauled in his best catch of the day on a 20-yard missile thrown by #7. He had another short grab during the game which only went for 6-yards but it still was forward progress and good to see out there by one of the Niners mystery's at this position. If Long keeps forging ahead and playing solid, he can make this team. Even if just on the practice squad (assuming he is eligible).
Kevin Jurovich - Jurovich should have, in my opinion, gotten a little more playing time. He is a player who never gives up on a play and fights for every single yard. The best play of the night for him could have very well been the 17-yard pass he caught from Kaepernick. But that play was easily contested by his hustle on special teams as he ran down Joe Morgan, the Saints punt returner from behind which, as by evidence of his touchdown return, is no easy task. Jurovich should see more time through the preseason process and will continue to be watched by 49ers fans and the coaches as he is a local favorite.
Tyler Beiler - Did not play. Beiler is a guy who some around here would've liked to have seen. It is uncertain as to if he will get in next week's game against Oakland.
Joe Hastings - Did not play or travel with the team.
Chris Hogan - Did not play.
The 49ers next game will be against Oakland. With the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha, it will be interesting to see how well Oakland's first team can do against the 49ers first team receiving corps.
* Player of the game at his respective position.